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IoT demands innovation

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2016 looks to be the year that the Internet of Things hits the market big time. But, says NEIL SHOLAY, Head of Oracle Digital for EMEA, in order for it to live up to its promise, it is essential that developers can can create innovative applications.

2016 looks set to be the year that the Internet of Things (IoT) hits the big time. We’ve already seen a range of new IoT services come to market. Take Samsung’s smart fridge, which launched at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas; this connected cooler allows people to check in on the contents of their fridge via their smartphones, and even helps them to plan healthier eating regimes for their families. Connected cars were also a big theme at CES, with the likes of Bosch launching new sensors and devices to help enable automated driving. As anyone following Google knows, soon we’ll see completely driverless cars on the road, which use the IoT to help them navigate and avoid collisions.

IoT matters to consumers and it matters – or at least it should matter – to businesses. IoT can help brands build stronger customer relationships so mere products are elevated to compelling experiences. As pointed out in this article, the genius thing about Samsung’s smart fridge, for example, is not so much the fridge itself, but that it interacts with Samsung’s phone – building a wider brand awareness and relationship with the customer. In the digital age, IoT is absolutely essential to delivering expecptional customer experiences. This is a critical time for IoT, one where the technology is poised to take a central role in our home and work lives.

As such, it’s important to keep in mind the key factor in its success: application innovation. IoT isn’t just about adding ‘intelligence’ and sensors to devices; it’s about creating innovative applications that make use of this technology to deliver value. Businesses must therefore be able to experiment with IoT applications in a low-cost, low risk environment. After all, you can have all the embedded sensors in the world, but they’re useless without value-add applications that integrate IoT data with all relevant enterprise systems.

There’s only one way of addressing this need and that’s through the cloud; specifically: Cloud Platforms. A Cloud Platform enables application developers to rapidly build and test IoT applications in the cloud. This approach greatly lowers the cost and time associated with developing such applications, as developers can use the pre-configured development tools delivered through the platform. Costs are further lowered, as developers need only use the database, storage and compute resources sufficient to their requirements; whereas in the past, developers would need to build a unique development environment for each and every application – a time consuming and costly process.

The result of all this, is that developers are free to experiment; they can try out IoT applications within the cloud to see if they generate real value – whether that is through improving business efficiency or creating a new service for customers. If the applications prove successful, then the Cloud Platform allows them to immediately scale it up by increasing the resources dedicated to the application, or, if more appropriate, by moving the application to the businesses’ on-premises systems.

Cloud Platforms therefore enable businesses to be more agile with their application development, and this will prove crucial in helping them develop truly innovative IoT applications that deliver a competitive edge. One of the reasons that Cloud Platforms are so successful in this regard is that it enables complete data integration across the business. Through Cloud Platforms, businesses can take all their new IoT data, as well as any other relevant data from existing sources (CRM, Sales and Marketing systems for example, or even unstructured data from social media platforms) bring it together and make it available to the enterprise applications that need it. In this respect it’s the glue that binds enterprise data together, and helps turn mere IoT sensor data into something that can be used by an application to add value.

For example, energy providers are increasingly installing smart meters into people’s homes to monitor how they use energy. Now this data on its own is fairly useless, but when combined with other sources of data from within the enterprise it enables a variety of value-add services: customer smartphone apps for example, that can use the data to show them how to save energy; energy suppliers meanwhile can aggregate the data with that of other customers to show them where their network pinch points are; the utility can use the data to launch new tariff plans to help them manage demand on the network; the list could go on…

As we move into the new IoT-enabled world it is clear that businesses need to innovate and integrate to succeed. If you would like to find out more on how Cloud Platforms can help your business meet these goals, you can download our PaaS guide.

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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