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Future-proof with software

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Software development is a project that needs constant attention, and so development teams need to be seen as an extension of their client’s business. This partnership also needs to allow for constant feedback, writes MEGON THOMSON, Software Development Manager at redPanda Software.

Within every business and across every sector worldwide, innovation and disruption are now the primary challenges that leaders face. New technology trends and digital platforms emerge every year, and only the agile and responsive are able to truly thrive in such an environment.

This has massive repercussions for those involved in the realm of software development and digital innovation. Instead of merely implementing once-off development projects, businesses now need long-term engagements with development teams in order to stay abreast of technology development and to ensure that the best solution is in place. As with technology itself, software development is not static – and the process needs to reflect the fluid, iterative and innovative nature of today’s technology environment.

With this in mind, South African businesses and software development teams need to take a closer look at their approach. In order for the best and most agile software solution to emerge from the process, there undoubtedly needs to be a far greater level of transparency built into the relationship. In many cases, this means rethinking the entire process – and making very practical changes from the start.

Built-in Visibility

To begin with, the early engagements between clients and software development partners should be very carefully and thoughtfully approached. Often, the stakeholders or people present in these early engagements are simply not close enough to the business problem. Or, the business problem itself has not yet been properly identified and thought through. The result of either – or a combination of – these two scenarios is that the client receives a solution that they perceive as different to what they had asked for. The entire process then becomes frustrating and far more complex than both parties had envisioned.

To avoid this, it is critical that businesses have a clear idea of the problem they need to solve, and the desired business outcomes. From there, both the client and the development team must ensure that the right stakeholders are present in the early engagements, and that the details of the project are discussed at length. Each party needs to be clear on the desired outcomes; the steps involved; and the roles that they need to assume in the process. This will ensure that there is a strong element of both transparency and visibility present in the relationship throughout.

A True Partnership

Given the iterative and fast changing nature of technology itself, the entire relationship between clients and development partners also needs redefining. It is no longer enough to invest in a once-off solution or ‘intervention’ – today, businesses need to view development teams as an extension of the modern enterprise environment. The goal should be to develop a long-term relationship in which the needs of the business are very clearly understood and factored into each step of the development process.

For such a partnership to emerge, there needs to be a very structured approach put in place that allows for constant and honest feedback. In development lingo, it is called a continuous feedback loop – which places the client at the very heart of the process – and the solution itself.

This can mean that the client provides feedback even sooner than the traditional two-week sprint period. In some cases, this requires internal process changes for the client. However, once the initial groundwork has been done, the process yields a natural trust and transparency that benefits both parties in the short and long term.

For development teams, a transparent process leads to far higher productivity, as well as more consistency with regards to the quality of the software produced. For clients, they benefit from software that is not only more tailored and suited to their specific business and context, but they also achieve a solution that is future-proof and able to pivot in response to a disruptive business landscape.

Ultimately, such a solution is the smartest investment that any business can make…

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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Pizoelectrics: Healthcare’s new gymnasts of gadgetry

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Healthcare electronics is rapidly deploying for wellness, electroceuticals, and intrusive medical procedures, among other, powered by new technologies. Much of it is trending to diagnostics and treatment on the move, and removing the need for the patient to perform procedures on time. 

Instruments become wearables, including electronic skin patches and implants. The IDTechEx Research report, “Piezoelectric Harvesting and Sensing for Healthcare 2019-2029”, notes that sensors should preferably be self-powered, non-poisonous even on disposal, and many need to be biocompatible and even biodegradable. 

We need to detect biology, vibration, force, acceleration, stress and linear movement and do imaging. Devices must reject bacteria and be useful in wearables and Internet of Things nodes. Preferably we must move to one device performing multiple tasks. 

So is there a gymnast material category that has that awesome versatility? 

Piezoelectrics has a good claim. It measures all those parameters. That even includes biosensors where the piezo senses the swelling of a biomolecule recognizing a target analyte. The most important form of self-powered (one material, two functions) piezo sensing is ultrasound imaging, a market growing at 5.1% yearly. 

The IDTechEx Research report looks at what comes next, based on global travel and interviewing by its PhD level analysts in 2018 with continuous updates.  

Click here to read how Piezo has been reinvented.

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