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Free State kudos in Vodacom journalism awards

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The Central regional awards for the 2017 edition of the Vodacom Journalist of the Year recently took place where journalists were recognised in 12 categories for outstanding work.

The theme for the awards this year is ‘Your Word’ and promotes the integrity of journalism across all media. This year’s competition drew over 1 000 entries from all over the country, including 188 entries from the Central region.

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “The entries across the 12 categories were excellent this year. Our criteria for judging is to look for entries that could possibly make the cut for the national finals, and the overall prize of R100 000 for the journalist of the year award. As always, the entries from the Central region were interesting and enjoyable and, in some cases, even quirky. But all of this is what makes a competition such as the Vodacom Journalist of the Year so special.”

At a function held at the Protea Hotel Bloemfontein, winners in the Regional categories each took home R5 000, with the exception of the Young Journalist of the Year regional finalist, who received a certificate. All the regional winners go through to the national awards in Johannesburg on 16 November 2017.

Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group, says: “We are delighted to announce the Central regional winners in Bloemfontein for the 2017 Awards, which honour journalists from around the country by recognising their best work from the past year. We look forward to welcoming them at the national finals.

I would also like to pay tribute to the judges, who year after year provide their expertise and knowledge in the adjudication of these prestigious awards, thereby ensuring the integrity of the process. Thanks go to Ryland Fisher, Mary Papayya, Arthur Goldstuck, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Nikiwe Bikitsha, Megan Rusi,  Mathatha Tshedu, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa.”

The winners of the 2017 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Regional Awards in the Central region are:

2017 Radio News

A good Radio News story must fit into a very short time frame with a variety of sound elements, interviews and even translations. Telling a difficult story and balancing different opinions in only a few minutes is a challenge competently achieved by the regional winner: Neo Bodumela of SABC News for “Negligence at Kimberley Hospital” and “Elderly woman raped”.

2017 Radio Feature

Great analysis and story telling with good use of sound clips gave the winning entry all the elements of a good Radio Feature. In addition, it tackled a difficult and extremely sensitive topic in a very professional manner.  The regional winner is: Earl Coetzee of OFM News for “State capture fallout”.

2017 Sport

A beautifully written story made the reporter the judges’ unanimous choice to win the Sport category in the region. The reporter also took all the memorable accompanying action pictures in this story about a schools rugby match. The regional winner is: Christiaan Cloete of Noordkaap Sport for “Northerns Onderskep Sege”.

2017 Sustainability

The judges expected a better response to this category from a region brimming with Sustainability issues. The regional winners, however, did an excellent job in pinpointing the conniving and corruption that confronts and threatens to defeat many of the poor who rely on natural resources for their survival. This specialist category rewards excellent in-depth reporting in any medium and this year, the regional award goes to a thought-provoking and well-produced TV feature: “Vissers debakel” by Keith Sayster and Eddie Stemmet for SABC Fokus.

2017 Print News

The passing of a highly respected and internationally recognised South African literary figure is news. If there is evidence that the person planned his own death, the circumstances become even more newsworthy. The Print News regional winner is: Elsje du Toit of Volksblad for her combined coverage entitled “Karel Schoeman sterf”.

2017 Print Feature

Feature writing allows a journalist to explore and expand the boundaries of print news. From an unlikely start, a story set in a small town in the Northern Cape proved to be irresistibly charming and engaging. The regional winner is: Charne Kemp of Volksblad for “Wat in Vosburg gebeur, bly in Vosburg”.

2017 Online

Fine writing, effective video interviewing and excellent visuals are all elements that draw the reader into an Online story. Another temptation in online journalism is to focus only on issues of the day or fall-out from major stories or social crises. But our regional online winner brought to life a strong human-interest story: Andre Damons of Netwerk24 for “Vir 18 jaar het hy dwelmhonde opgelei”.

2017 Financial/Economic

Financial and economic issues are a fundamental media beat because they reflect the impact of political power and decision making on community and individual welfare. These aspects were particularly highlighted in the debacle over SASSA payment management. This category rewards excellent in-depth reporting in any medium and our winners combined in a TV feature elegant contextualisation with moving interviews from victims. The winners are: Keith Sayster and Jabulani O-A Afrika of SABC News for “SASSA uncertainty”.

Photography

Creativity is tested to the limit and all photographic elements used to portray the beauty of our country is portrayed in a new light in this creative photo essay. These outstanding images show the unusual transformation of nature when winter snow and ice start to dominate the South African landscape. The regional winner is: Mlungisi Louw of Volksblad for “It’s South Africa”.

2017 Television News

The right to education is enshrined in the South African Constitution – but it is far from easy to enforce if you are disabled and living in the Northern Cape when you may have to wait up to four years to find a school that will accept you. The TV news regional winner highlighted the plight of these learners: Refilwe Gaeswe, freelancing for SABC TV for “Education denied for Northern Cape children with a disability”.

2017 Television Feature

Some communities have to adapt more than others to the demands of our rapidly changing economy to integrate a rich culture, heritage and age-old ways of survival with an uncertain present. Shot beautifully, the winning TV Feature brought to the fore people on the outskirts of society. The regional winners are: Keith Sayster and Gerhard Botes of SABC Fokus for “Karretjie mense”.

Young Journalist Award

The winner in the region gets a certificate and goes through to the national round to compete for the overall prize. The overall award provides an opportunity to fast track a young journalist’s professional and personal development through an all-expenses paid overseas trip that includes a visit to the renowned Thomson Foundation, as well as the opportunity to work in a newsroom overseas. To enter this category, the journalist should have worked in the media for up to, but not more than three years, and be able to demonstrate their potential through their entries. The winner is Katleho Morapela from OFM News.

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Smart grids needed for Africa’s utilities

Power utilities across Africa should rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem, says COLIN BEANEY, Global Industry Director for Asset-intensive and Energy and Utilities at IFS.

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Africa’s abundant natural resources and urgent need for power mean that it is one of the most exciting and innovative energy markets in a world that is moving rapidly towards clean, renewable energy sources. The continent’s energy industry is taking new approaches to providing unserved and underserved communities with access to power, with an emphasis on smart technologies and greener energy sources.

Power systems are evolving from centralised, top-down systems as interest in off-grid technology grows among African businesses and consumers. And according to PwC, we will see installed power capacity rise from 2012’s 90GW to 380GW in 2040 in sub-Saharan Africa. Power utilities are needing to rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem.

Energy and utilities providers are transforming from centralised supply companies to more distributed, bi-directional service providers. They can only achieve this through the evolution of “smart grids” where sensors and smart meters will be able to provide the consumer with a more granular level of detail of power usage. This shift from an energy supplier to “lifestyle provider” will require a much more dynamic and optimised approach to maintenance and field service.

African companies must thus embrace digital transformation as an imperative. This transformation begins by embracing enterprise asset management to improve asset utilisation. The subsequent steps are enhancing upstream and downstream supply chain management; resource optimisation; introducing enterprise operational intelligence; embracing new technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and predictive maintenance; and becoming a smart utility.

Embracing mobility to drive ROI

Getting it right is about putting in place an enterprise backbone that accommodates asset and project management, multinational languages and currencies, new energies and markets, visualisation of the entire value chain, and mobility apps. Mobile technologies that support the field workforce have a vital role to play in driving better ROI from utilities’ investments in enterprise asset management and enterprise resource planning solutions.

Today’s leading enterprise asset management solutions feature powerful functionality for mobile management of the complete workflow of work orders – from logging status changes and updates, from receiving and creating new orders to concluding the job and reporting time, material and expenses. Such solutions are easy to deploy and intuitive for end users to learn and use.

Importantly for organisations operating in parts of the continent with poor telecoms infrastructure, connectivity is not an issue. The solutions work offline and synchronises when network connectivity is available. Users can work on any device—laptops, tablets, and smartphones—commercial or ruggedised.

By ensuring that field technicians have easy access to information and processes, the mobile solution enables technicians and maintenance engineers to easily do the following tasks:

·         Create a new work order on the fly and log new opportunities

·         Access both historical and planned work information when requested

·         Permit customers to sign when the job is completed

·         Capture measurements and inspection notes on route work orders

·         Create new fault reports on routing

·         Facilitate documentation through photo capturing

·         Provide easy access to technical data and preventive actions.

The power of mobility allows the engineer to be the origin of all data capture on a service event. They can easily inquire on asset history, record parts used or parts needed for repair, record labour hours, and expenses as they occur, and any notes of repairs performed. When coupled with workforce management tools, such solutions unlock significant productivity gains for utilities who are trying to get the most from their workforce and assets.

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Brands fall for app vanity

The experience of a mobile screen full of icons, representing independent apps that your need to open to experience them, is making less sense. Instead, businesses should serve customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the digital platform they already use, says PIETER DE VILLIERS, Group CEO at Clickatell.

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Many brands remain obsessed with creating mobile apps. This not only defies trends that point to increasing consumer app apathy, but can exclude a sizeable portion  of your customers in emerging economies. Companies need to engage with their users where they are rather than forcing them onto an app, in what can only be described as brand vanity. 

In 2017 there were around 2.2 million apps available in the iOS app store and over 3 million on Google Play. And, while the number of apps being downloaded continues to rise, analysis shows that consumers are only using 30 apps per month and accessing just 9 on a day-to-day basis. 

While these numbers still seem attractively high, in reality the majority of the apps we use are for messaging (like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat) and our social networking, gaming, leisure, dating or utility activities. 

Despite the facts, the application strategy as the holy grail for digital transformation is still being pushed even within large progressive brands. What’s more, some advertising agencies and digital consultants are still pushing apps as the best means for companies to connect with their customers. This has resulted in some organisations stubbornly doubling down on app strategies which are simply not showing return on investment (ROI). 

It’s not immediately clear to us whether the fascination with apps is a roll-over from long overdue projects or whether brand owners equate a mobile-first strategy with a mobile app. Mobile-first in 2018 means customer first, and therefore embracing chat commerce in order to deliver services with convenience and simplicity in mind. 

Why apps won’t win the internet

The problem with apps goes beyond user fatigue. In the first instance, many apps are poorly designed, assuming technical sophistication which may not match reality for the average customer. Poor user interfaces and attempts to provide complex engagement can result in even the best ideas missing their targets due to lack of engagement. 

Secondly, we all know that economic realities drive consumer behaviour. In Africa, new mobile phone users typically opt for feature phones over smartphones. With a longer battery life and a much more accessible price point, feature phones still allow for a basic internet connection, chat platforms like WhatsApp, and call and message functionality. In these regions, the cost of an app – even if it’s free – goes far beyond installing it. Constant updates require reliable and cheap access to the internet. For the average phone owner in an emerging market, this can be a serious challenge. 

Thirdly, and most importantly, apps must be relevant to their intended market. Frequency of usage is a key measure of relevance. 

Apps which are used on a daily basis, like health and fitness trackers, enjoy constant engagement. New features which are added are eagerly awaited by users who are happy to update their apps. 

However, users may well question the relevance of the app if they are required to conduct updates on a monthly or even weekly basis when they are only making use of the app once or twice a year. 

On average, I download one app per quarter. Some I use more frequently than others, but all of these apps need to be regularly updated to maintain security, update features, and fix bugs. Many apps are pushing out updates much more frequently. I noticed over the past year that I could go from having all apps updated, to 32 apps requiring an update in five days.

When it comes to a customer-first digital strategy, companies should be asking themselves if an app is really the best way to reach their target audience. 

In fact, at the end of 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2019, 20 percent of brands would ditch their mobile app. What’s more, in its 2018 predictions, the company forecast that by 2021, more than 50 percent of corporations would spend more per annum on bots and chatbots than on mobile app development. 

So, we need to ask, what is the alternative for CIOs, CDOs, CMOs, and digital leaders who are looking for ways to reach, retain and grow their customer base? 

The logical app alternative 

The old battle advice goes: fight your enemy where they are not. Military strategists agreed that having your enemy come to you and fight you on your own terms was preferable. In a world where customers have access to thousands of offerings and millions of deals online, we need to flip that idea to Meet Your Customers Where They Are. 

Any marketeer will tell you just a how difficult it is to drive app downloads. Development, cross platform testing and user interface aside, the marketing campaign required to get customers to download the app can swallow entire annual budgets and still come up short. 

Looking at the facts, it makes infinitely more sense to work within the digital platforms already being used by your target audience. 

Clickatell is already enabling chat commerce for some of the leading global brands with its Touch solution. This allows organisations to serve their customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the chat or browser platform of their customer’s choice (Twitter, Facebook Messenger, etc.) 

Brands can now send an actionable Touch link such as ‘find the nearest ATM’ or ‘reset my password’ within a chat stream that will open an intuitive touch card without the user having to download an app to perform the action. Services can also be linked to the in-app experience for brands not looking to abandon their app efforts. 

Working with our clients, many of whom are global innovators and thought leaders, we’ve found that having the courage to design with an ‘end user first’ approach and dealing with the back-end complexity behind the scenes results in cost efficient customer delight and ROI. 

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