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Massive rise in wearables

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) wearables market experienced a 65.3% year-on-year growth in shipments in the first quarter of 2016, according to International Data Corporation (IDC).

“The growth of the wearables market provides a rare ray of light amid an overall downturn for personal computing in the region,” says Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “This growth has been spurred by a number of factors, including declining average selling prices, new product launches, the entrance of lower-cost wearables, and the introduction of sleeker designs.”

Smart wearables, which are classified as devices capable of running third-party applications, are still finding their feet in the market as many consumers continue to view the devices as too expensive for the features and functions they offer. As such, most of the growth in this segment of the market stems from the increasing popularity of smart watches.

Basic wearables, which are not capable of running third-party applications, continue to dominate the overall MEA wearables market with 71% unit share versus 29% for smart wearables. This dominance can be attributed to the growing popularity of fitness bands, which have been flooding into the market for a while now, proving to be a big hit with consumers.

The future of the MEA wearables market looks bright with IDC forecasting a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.1% for the 2016–2020 period. This growth will primarily be driven by increased adoption of smart watches and wristbands as these devices evolve to become more sophisticated than simple health and fitness trackers.

“The growth will be further augmented by the launch of new wearable products in the clothing, eyewear, earwear categories, among others,” says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, a senior research manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “IDC expects vendors to step up their new product launches in the MEA market as share gain becomes the name of the game. We also anticipate new operating systems and versatile pools of applications to emerge in order to support all these new devices.”

These are exciting times for the wearables market, with niche and mass-market introductions set to change the way we interact with technology in our day-to-day lives. To keep pace with the changes taking place in this fast-moving market, IDC has launched its Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, which helps vendors looking to enter this market, promote new product developments, or accelerate the growth of their wearables divisions.

The tracker includes details on products, vendors, and technology trends at both global and country lev-els, as well as historical market data and five-year forecasts. The report also provides valuable insights into the adoption of core wearable features, such as form factor, connectivity, sensors, operating sys-tems, and applications, and offers invaluable assistance to tech firms looking to develop successful long-term business strategies for wearable devices.

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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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Why Your Business Needs a Cloud Architect

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By Colin Thornton, MD of Turrito Networks

As IT and business strategy align, Cloud Architects will become integral to growth.

As South African businesses look to streamline operational costs and become more globally competitive, Cloud computing has become essential.  And with the imminent launch of Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Service data centres in South Africa, local Cloud adoption will become even more attractive. According to the World Wide Worx Cloud Africa 2018 report, Cloud computing is rising sharply in the economic hubs of South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria – with 74% of the SA companies surveyed increasing their Cloud expenditure during 2017. The report noted that in the coming year, over 80% of SA companies would be looking to up their Cloud spend. While making the shift to the Cloud is a positive step, businesses have to ensure that the process is managed correctly – from the initial transition, right through to proactive, daily management.

Negotiating Complexity

For larger businesses, especially those relying on legacy software and/or hardware, moving fully to the Cloud, and ensuring sustainability, can be complex.  Even businesses with modern software and hardware may find this new paradigm, so completely different from traditional approaches, difficult.  This complexity requires a careful, skilled and managed approach – which is best handled by what the IT industry terms a ‘Cloud Architect.’ As the name implies, the Cloud Architect is responsible for designing the Cloud computing environment in an organisation, which encompasses the platforms, servers, storage, delivery and networks. In addition to the planning and designing, Cloud Architects also need to provide guidance throughout a development or deployment project and then manage the maintenance and support thereafter. Savvy Cloud Architects will take ownership of these systems and environments throughout their entire lifecycle – from the initial requirements analysis through to retirement.

Importantly, the Cloud Architect role is very different to more traditional IT roles, because it is not only technical in nature. There is a critical business and financial element required. Indeed, a skilled Cloud Architect will seek to understand what kinds of competitive advantages are required, the relevant functionalities that are needed, and the unique business requirements that the system architecture needs to deliver on. Moreover, the Cloud Architect will be responsible for sourcing and managing the right vendors such as Microsoft or Amazon; contracting suitable suppliers and deciding upon the right APIs and standards.

Aligning Business Needs

As Cloud computing becomes more ubiquitous and IT Departments more streamlined, the role may quickly evolve into a financial and strategic position. Given that the Cloud Architect will be handling budgets, forecasts, reports, etc, he or she could soon be sitting within the Finance Department – as opposed to a rapidly shrinking IT Department!

When exploring the appointment of a Cloud Architect, it’s important to consider that letting a more traditional (and technically oriented) IT professional handle Cloud strategy can backfire. This is simply because technical professionals prefer to have control of their systems. There’s often a subconscious bias away from ‘putting everything in the Cloud and letting someone else manage it’. However, while there is more flexibility when a business controls everything (e.g. with a private Cloud or an on-premise server) there are often inflated costs and added risk. Increasingly, businesses are recognising that there are major advantages to relinquishing elements of flexibility and outsourcing most of the traditional IT services. And with a skilled Cloud Architect managing the relationships, businesses can arguably enjoy the best of both worlds – enhancing efficiency while reducing both costs and risk.

Recruiting for Growth

Given that this kind of role is still so new, businesses will be hard pressed to find experienced candidates off the bat. Today, leaders should rather be looking for candidates who come from roles that are closely related – and then looking for experience in other key aspects. For example, a Network Architect who has reported into a Finance Department; or an MBA who has a strong technical background. First and foremost, a great Cloud Architect will be able to grasp the business requirements – and then develop systems from there. For instance, these requirements may relate to growing profits/revenue or decreasing costs, and a good Architect needs to figure out how the Cloud can help achieve these goals. Moreover, a savvy Cloud Architect will have strong administration skills as well as highly developed interpersonal skills – as he or she will be managing key vendor relationships.

As businesses expand into an environment in which the lines between IT, finance, and strategy are increasingly blurred, professionals such as the skilled Cloud Architect will become integral to growth, innovation and sustainability.

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