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SA digitally ahead, but behind on growth

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Although South Africa’s digital economy makes it a standout among its emerging market peers, the country’s digital adoption has not yet translated into industrial growth, according to a Accenture and Gordon Institute of Business Science whitepaper.

According to the report, South Africa ranks ahead of India, Brazil, and Russia on digital competitiveness based on its strengths in areas such as technology skills, research and development expenditure, access to capital, regulatory frameworks, innovation ecosystems and ICT exports. The country now needs to embrace digital technologies to reinvent how its industrial sector operates and re-ignite economic growth.

The report surveyed senior executives from leading South African companies in manufacturing and production sectors, who formed part of the larger global survey group of 1,000 decision makers spanning over 20 countries. “Our study shows that decision makers are hungry for digital adoption,” says Yusof Seedat, Director at Accenture Research. “This potent mix of digital maturity and executive desire isn’t delivering expected results in terms of economic growth.”

“What is most troubling is the performance of South Africa’s manufacturing sector, where growth has been flat for a decade and negative for three consecutive quarters, falling an average of 3.3% beginning the third quarter of 2016, and expanded marginally (by 1.5%) in Q2 of 2017. This stagnation has both economic and policy implications, given the role of manufacturing in the government’s plans for economic transformation and job creation,” says Seedat.

South African companies also tend to mimic digital strategies of large industrial nations which prevents them from contextualising digital strategies to their own industrial reality and as a result, often fail to customise their offerings to meet rapidly changing customer expectations.

Moving forward, the report shows that for South African companies to generate the improvements that will enable them to leapfrog to digital leadership, companies must reinvent their operating models completely and rethink production and value chains. To succeed, companies need to move to what Accenture calls Industry X.0, which is the full digital reinvention of how companies and industries work by leveraging the combinatorial powers of digital. “Companies must reimagine and rebuild their businesses as smart, connected, living and learning entities to digitally reinvent their industry.” highlights Seedat.

With relative ease, industrial companies in South Africa can now adopt a mix of advanced digital technologies such as artificial intelligence, 3D printing, blockchain, and big data analytics to create hyper-personalized experiences, new levels of efficiency and build new sources of growth.  To facilitate this change, the report highlights the following six digital imperatives that need to be addressed by South African companies in order to become Industry X.0 businesses:

  • Transform the core. Companies need to build their core engineering and production systems around digital technologies that drive new levels of efficiency. They need to ensure that physical machines and software systems are synchronised to unlock previously-unseen cost efficiencies—thus driving up investment capacity.
  • Focus on customer experiences and outcomes. Local companies should invest in creating hyper-personalised experience for customers using multiple “smart” touchpoints. This helps grow core businesses by enhancing customer engagement.
  • Innovate business models. Industry X.0 companies ideate and create new business models to drive differentiated value for their clients and new revenue streams for themselves. Such companies inculcate an innovation mindset across the organisation, allowing every employee to contribute ideas towards enhancing customer experience.
  • Build a digital-ready workforce. Industry X.0 companies recruit, train, and retain talent with skills for the digital enterprise and encourage collaboration between people and machines. Digital skills are not limited to knowledge of using digital tools or software programs, but also includes intuitive knowhow of how to apply those tools to solve real business problems.
  • Build new ecosystems. Companies need to build an ecosystem of suppliers, distributors, start-ups, and customers, which will allow them to scale new business models rapidly. Large industrial companies must assume a collaborative approach to innovation. Despite their size and technological prowess, they must act with empathy and allow creative freedom to smaller ecosystem partners.
  • Pivot wisely. Industry X.0 companies are moving into the future, but as they do so, they carefully balance investment and resource allocation between the core business and new businesses to synchronise innovation and growth.

To succeed as digital enterprises, companies must look beyond traditional productivity and efficiency measures, and identify new ones that make the most of the big data and advanced analytics capabilities available to them. In Industry X.0 organisations performance metrics should measure the abilities of digital technology as well as the digital workforce to improve both the top and bottom line.

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Bring your network with you

At last week’s Critical Communications World, Motorola unveiled the LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. It allows rescue personal to set up dedicated LTE networks for communication in an emergency, writes SEAN BACHER.

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In the event of an emergency, communications are absolutely critical, but the availability of public phone networks are limited due to weather conditions or congestion.

Motorola realised that this caused a problem when trying to get rescue personnel to those in need and so developed its LXN 500 LTE Ultra Portable Network Infrastructure. The product is the smallest and lightest full powered broadband network to date and allows the first person on the scene to set up an LTE network in a matter of minutes, allowing other rescue team members to communicate with each other.

“The LXN 500 weighs six kilograms and comes in a backpack with two batteries. It offers a range of 1km and allows up to 100 connections at the same time. However, in many situations the disaster area may span more than 1km which is why they can be connected to each other in a mesh formation,” says Tunde Williams, Head of Field and Solutions Marketing EMEA, Motorola Solutions.

The LXN 500 solution offers communication through two-way radios, and includes mapping, messaging, push-to-talk, video and imaging features onboard, thus eliminating the need for any additional hardware.

Data collected on the device can then be sent through to a central control room where an operator can deploy additional rescue personnel where needed. Once video is streamed into the control room, realtime analytics and augmented reality can be applied to it to help predict where future problem points may arise. Video images and other multimedia can also be made available for rescuers on the ground.

“Although the LXN 500 was designed for the seamless communications between on ground rescue teams and their respective control rooms, it has made its way into the police force and in places where there is little or no cellular signal such as oil rigs,” says Williams.

He gave a hostage scenario: “In the event of a hostage situation, it is important for the police to relay information in realtime to ensure no one is hurt. However the perpetrators often use their mobile phones to try and foil any rescue attempts. Should the police have the correct partnerships in place they are able to disable cellular towers in the vicinity, preventing any in or outgoing calls on a public network and allowing the police get their job done quickly and more effectively.”

By disabling any public networks in the area, police are also able to eliminate any cellular detonated bombs from going off but still stay in touch with each other he says.

The LXN 500 offers a wide range of mission critical cases and is sure to transform communications and improve safety for first responders and the people they are trying to protect.

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Kaspersky moves to Switzerland

As part of its Global Transparency Initiative, Kaspersky Lab is adapting its infrastructure to move a number of core processes from Russia to Switzerland.

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This includes customer data storage and processing for most regions, as well as software assembly, including threat detection updates. To ensure full transparency and integrity, Kaspersky Lab is arranging for this activity to be supervised by an independent third party, also based in Switzerland.

Global transparency and collaboration for an ultra-connected world

The Global Transparency Initiative, announced in October 2017, reflects Kaspersky Lab’s ongoing commitment to assuring the integrity and trustworthiness of its products. The new measures are the next steps in the development of the initiative, but they also reflect the company’s commitment to working with others to address the growing challenges of industry fragmentation and a breakdown of trust. Trust is essential in cybersecurity, and Kaspersky Lab understands that trust is not a given; it must be repeatedly earned through transparency and accountability.

The new measures comprise the move of data storage and processing for a number of regions, the relocation of software assembly and the opening of the first Transparency Center.

Relocation of customer data storage and processing

By the end of 2019, Kaspersky Lab will have established a data center in Zurich and in this facility, will store and process all information for users in Europe, North America, Singapore, Australia, Japan and South Korea, with more countries to follow. This information is shared voluntarily by users with the Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) an advanced, cloud-based system that automatically processes cyberthreat-related data.

Relocation of software assembly

Kaspersky Lab will relocate to Zurich its ‘software build conveyer’ — a set of programming tools used to assemble ready to use software out of source code. Before the end of 2018, Kaspersky Lab products and threat detection rule databases (AV databases) will start to be assembled and signed with a digital signature in Switzerland, before being distributed to the endpoints of customers worldwide. The relocation will ensure that all newly assembled software can be verified by an independent organisation and show that software builds and updates received by customers match the source code provided for audit.

Establishment of the first Transparency Center

The source code of Kaspersky Lab products and software updates will be available for review by responsible stakeholders in a dedicated Transparency Center that will also be hosted in Switzerland and is expected to open this year. This approach will further show that generation after generation of Kaspersky Lab products were built and used for one purpose only: protecting the company’s customers from cyberthreats.

Independent supervision and review

Kaspersky Lab is arranging for the data storage and processing, software assembly, and source code to be independently supervised by a third party qualified to conduct technical software reviews. Since transparency and trust are becoming universal requirements across the cybersecurity industry, Kaspersky Lab supports the creation of a new, non-profit organisation to take on this responsibility, not just for the company, but for other partners and members who wish to join.

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