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IDC predicts 2017 in SA tech roll-out

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The next wave of ICT development in South Africa will see organisations across the country doing more with less while consolidating and outsourcing legacy IT, according to the latest forecasts from IDC.

Hosting its ‘IDC Predictions 2017’ event in Johannesburg recently, the global ICT research and consulting services firm also predicted that innovation will continue to disrupt the traditional ICT mix and that there will be a much stronger focus on ensuring that technology enables business outcomes.

“This year has undoubtedly been a difficult year for economies around the world,” says Mark Walker, IDC’s associate vice president for Sub-Saharan Africa. “The South African economy has not emerged unscathed. Marginal economic growth and political instability have made the business environment very difficult to navigate, and organisations are looking at technology to drive down their costs while improving the way they operate. Business confidence has also taken a knock because of the economic and political instability.”

“We have seen a very strong focus on datacenter infrastructure and operations during the past year,” continues Walker. “Information security and enterprise software have also been among the top three priorities for CIOs during the same period. Interestingly, cloud computing was only at number seven of the top priorities, which is unexpected considering the global rush to the cloud as a driver of digital transformation and business agility.”

Jon Tullett, research manager for IT services at IDC South Africa, says South Africa has lagged in cloud adoption due to the lack of local infrastructure, data protection concerns, and conservative investment strategies. “IDC believes 2017 will see at least one major global cloud provider establishing local datacenter infrastructure to service the region,” says Tullet. “This will address key concerns and spur competition and adoption while putting pressure on local providers. New public cloud spend will overtake on-premise in areas such as collaborative applications, application development software and platforms, and customer relationship management (CRM).”

Tullett recommends that organisations continue to invest in a private cloud but develop the capabilities to transition workloads into public cloud as circumstances change: “Organisations should reassess their application capabilities with a view to cloud capabilities and invest in cloud skills around critical workloads, as well as integration and management. They should also reevaluate contracts and relationships with software providers to ensure that they meet their business requirements.”

IDC pointed out that 2016 was also a tough year for information security, with the prevalence of massive data leaks, ransomware, and IoT internet-of-things (IoT) malware compounded by a shortage of IT security skills. “We believe 2017 will be worse in every aspect of information security,” says Tullett. “We expect continued exposure for South African businesses to major cybercrime syndicates, both directly and indirectly. IDC also believes 2017 will see at least one high-profile public breach in South Africa, which is likely to be a data leak within the public sector, although we cannot rule out a malware or ransomware attack in retail or healthcare. However, IDC expects that South Africa will contribute several new technologies aimed thwarting attacks, particularly in relation to IoT applications.”

George Kalebaila, senior research manager for telecommunications at IDC South Africa, says until now most of the IoT applications have been cellular based and mainly under the domain of traditional mobile operators. “In 2017, we will start seeing several smaller non-mobile operators deploy low-power WAN (LPWAN) IoT networks to provide low-cost IoT applications,” he says. “IDC expects that most of these implementations will be LoRA based rather than SigFox. IoT will remain a preserve of mobile operators. Post-2017, we expect to see an acceleration of IoT deployments in other African countries using similar business models. LPWAN IoT network implementations will slowly start pushing IoT into the limelight away from traditional M2M applications and lower the barrier to entry in the market, reduce the cost of connectivity, and contribute to the rapid growth of connected devices. We also foresee the developer community taking more interest in developing localised IoT solutions. Once these solutions find their way into the market, this will also drive IoT adoption.”

Kalebaila says mobility is becoming one of the key drivers of digital transformation as customer engagements and transactions move to digital platforms: “Choose your own device (CYOD) has become the de facto device policy for most enterprises to reduce the cost of mobilising the workforce. Financial services will continue to lead the adoption of mobility solutions mainly due to the inherent benefits and cost savings from the reduction in branch footprint and improving customer experience. However, securing data and data recovery have become more important than securing devices as data becomes the new capital in the digital economy.”

IDC expects the number of mobile enterprise applications to almost double as the shift from devices to mobile apps accelerates. “In 2017, near field communication (NFC) will start pushing mobile payments to the fore, but will still remain on the peripheral and will be niche,” says Kalebaila. “5G curiosity and hype from mobile operators and vendors will lead to 5G becoming part of enterprise executive discussions.”

Kalebaila also says organisations should plan for mobile apps as a natural part of all workflows in the organisation: “The focus should move to mobile app development platforms as a critical tool and security must be integrated across the mobile app development lifecycle. Organisations should also develop an intermediate understanding of 5G elements and what they mean in a commercial setting.”

Tullett believes that South African companies will increase their investment in analytics and big data in 2017. While the primary investment will remain limited to large enterprises, he says South African companies are building foundation technologies for cognitive computing, whether it is part of the long-term strategy or not: “Behavioral analysis and prediction will become mainstream in 2017, directly driving product development in banking, financial services, and insurance in particular. In 2017, analytics will be the primary resource responsible for thwarting major criminal incidents.”

He says that when machine learning does arrive in the country, it will do so rapidly, with mature, proven technologies ready to deploy by then and ready to take advantage of aligning projects towards that future. Tullett’s advice to organisations in South Africa is to continue to invest in analytics and data processing capabilities: “Measure everything, bearing in mind this will require investment in data handling infrastructure and development resources. Ensure your data is robust and accessible to your development, customer experience, business intelligence and data science teams. Finally, workshop strategic projects around current and future analytic capabilities.”

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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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