The tide is turning in South Africa. In the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s new April World Economic Outlook report, the country’s growth forecast has been raised from 0.9 percent to 1.7 percent. This coincides with a plan to attract R1.2 trillion in foreign investment. Local enthusiasm is echoing this: the FNB/BER consumer confidence index rose to a record high in the first quarter of 2018 – even the people are feeling optimistic.
South Africa is both economically resilient and attractive, even as it skirted recession. One would be hard pressed to find a developing economy with so many different positive attributes, from strong financial systems and competitive wages to stable politics and a liberal, business-friendly environment. Add to that SA’s status as a gateway to Africa and it makes for a very strong investment case.
In business, when the bears are out you raise the gates, but if the bulls are running, you double down. This is double down time. As SA’s economic prospects make a dramatic about-turn, businesses should look at reinvesting in growth and to find those resources by becoming more efficient.
“Efficiency is a dangerous word in SA,” said Gavin Meyer, Executive Director of Itec Southern Africa. “To many it translates into lost jobs. Technology is painted with that same brush: we think it’s only about automating workers out of their positions. But that’s not true. The efficiencies brought through managed services unlocks more value that can be reinvested to grow businesses and their workforces.”
Though some technologies are reducing reliance on workers, in most events this is not the case. Instead many of those efficiencies tackle existing bottlenecks in companies. Relieving these lead to growth and more employment.
Today’s business has many technology tools and concerns. It worries about security, wants faster systems, and ponders how it can use data and business intelligence to grow its market share and service its customers. But often the technology it owns is like being a restaurant patron, choosing something from the menu, and then being expected to go cook the meal.
In today’s fast-paced world, companies are increasingly reliant on technology, but have less time and fewer skills to maintain those. Even a simple email or disaster recovery system can become highly unreliable and fiscally draining if not maintained well. But the conundrum is that companies are not in the business of technology: they have other priorities, so they let the technology languish.
Managed business services (MBS) takes care of this. Organisations need to offload some of those technology burdens, creating new opportunities to encourage growth. Enter MBS: this approach lets companies use the technology, manage costs and expect their MBS partner to ensure technology operations remain strong.
MBS is a major potential growth booster in South Africa. It helps businesses modernise so as to remain competitive, it takes away the headache of operational technology so IT teams can focus on new ideas, and it creates vast pools of resources that can be used for reinvestment.
MBS puts the business back in charge. Organisations can set out their expectations and expect results, not wring hands around the execution of operational technology. MBS is a big catalyst for business growth and modernisation. It should be a topic of conversation in every company.
The future of the book… and of reading
Many fear that the days of the printed book are numbered. In truth, it is not so much the book that is evolving, but the very act of reading, argues ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.
Let’s talk about a revolutionary technology. One that has already changed the course of civilisation. It is also a dangerous technology, one that is spreading previously hidden knowledge among people who may misuse and abuse the technology in ways we cannot imagine.
Every one reading this is a link in a chain of this dangerous and subversive technology.
I’m talking, of course, about the printed book.
To understand how the book has changed society, though, we must also understand how the book has changed reading. That, in turn, will help us understand the future of the book.
Because the future of the book is in fact the future of reading.
Let’s go back to a time some may remember as their carefree youth. The year 400.
(Go back in history with the links below.)
Wearables enter enterprise
Regardless of whether wearables lack the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have, says RONALD RAVEL, Director B2B South Africa, Toshiba South Africa.
The idea of integrating wearable technology into enterprise IT infrastructure is one which, while being mooted for several years now, has yet to take-off in earnest. The reasons behind previous false dawns vary. However, what is evident is that – regardless of whether wearables to date have lacked the mobility or security capabilities to fully support the ways in which we now work – organisations remain keen and willing to unlock the potential such devices have. According to ABI Research, global wearable device shipments will reach 154 million by 2021 – a significant jump from approximately 34 million in 2016.
This projected increase demonstrates a confidence amongst CIOs which perhaps betrays the lack of success in the market to date, but at the same time reflects a ripening of conditions which could make 2018 the year in which wearables finally take off in the enterprise. A maturing IoT market, advances in the development of Augmented Reality (AR), and the impending arrival of 5G – which is estimated to have a subscription base of half a billion by 2022 – are contributing factors which will drive the capabilities of wearable devices.
Perhaps the most significant catalyst behind wearables is the rise of Edge Computing. As the IoT market continues to thrive, so too must IT managers be able to securely and efficiently address the vast amounts of data generated by it. Edge Computing helps organisations to resolve this challenge, while at the same time enabling new methods of gathering, analysing and redistributing data and derived intelligence. Processing data at the edge reduces strain on the cloud so users can be more selective of the data they send to the network core. Such an approach also makes it easier for cyber-attacks to be identified at an early stage and restricted to a device at the edge. Data can then be scanned and encrypted before it is sent to the core.
As more and more wearable devices and applications are developed with business efficiency and enablement in mind, Edge Computing’s role will become increasingly valuable – helping organisations to achieve $2 trillion in extra benefits over the next five years, according to Equinix and IDC research.
Where will wearables have an impact?
At the same time as these technological developments are aiding the rise of wearables, so too are CIOs across various sectors recognising how they can best use these devices to enhance mobile productivity within their organisation – another factor which is helping to solidify the market. In particular it is industries with a heavy reliance on frontline and field workers – such as logistics, manufacturing, warehousing and healthcare – which are adopting solutions like AR smart glasses. The use case for each is specific to the sector, or even the organisation itself, but this flexibility is often what makes such devices so appealing. While wearables for the more traditional office worker may offer a different but no more efficient way for workers to conduct every day tasks such as checking emails and answering phone calls, for frontline and field workers they are being tailored to meet their unique demands and enhance their ability to perform specific tasks.
Take for example boiler engineers conducting an annual service, who could potentially use AR smart glasses to overlay the schematics of the boiler to enable a hands-free view of service procedures – meaning that when a fault becomes a barrier to repair, the engineer is able to use collaboration software to call for assistance from a remote expert. Elsewhere, in the healthcare sector smart eyewear may support clinicians with hands-free identification of patient records, medical procedures and information on medicines and results.
Such examples demonstrate the immediate and diverse potential of wearables across different verticals. With enterprise IT infrastructure now in the position to embrace such technologies, it is this ability to deliver bespoke functionality to mobile workers which will be the catalyst for continued uptake throughout 2018 and beyond.