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SA e-commerce in 2018 signals retailers to innovate

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2017, and Black Friday, in particular, proved online shopping is alive and well, albeit a little ill-prepared, or possibly naive. However, for now, at least, the truth remains that the status of e-commerce sits at around 1 to 2% of total retail.

At the same time, retail sales in South Africa is inching along pitifully, growing marginally by 0.2% in September, compared with the same month last year, although economists had predicted a growth of over 2.5%. Very much a rock and a hard place.

“Black Friday was a great success for SA e-tailers, and for consumers, and we’re delighted by that dawning. But with the economy putting pressure on retail, it’s imperative that local brands innovate around their model and distribution,” explains Grant Webster, the COO of nationwide smart device repair specialist, weFix.

Yuppie Chef, an interesting case in point, is testing an additional channel, making a bold step from online to bricks and mortar in this last quarter opening a store at Cape Town’s Willowbridge Mall in August. That’s thinking out of the box.

Originally praised for its dorm room beginnings, the weFix brand has intensely focused itself on partnerships for the last year and a half, contouring their infrastructure to craft a model that allows for scalability across devices, brands and technology. “Originally working with Apple Devices, we added Samsung and then LG and Huawei to our suite of products that we repair. Having repaired over 750 000 devices in 35 stores nationwide, through 150 technicians, we shifted from a repair shop to a lab with technicians, supported by a robust framework to manage large trade volume for global brands.”

Under the leadership of Simon van der Merwe, weFix’s Chief Business Development Officer, this evolution paved the way to open up to more brands, including Yoco, the small wireless-card machines that seem ubiquitous at stores, restaurants, coffee shops, and small businesses, as well as the servicing of all the newly launched Energizer units, and FNB smart devices nationwide, the first local financial services company to launch its own branded Android-powered smartphones, designed by Chinese phone maker ZTE.

Within the insurance industry, weFix manage claims for the majority of insurance companies, including Discovery, MonitorKZN, and Santam, while breaking new ground with Click2Sure Insurance, who have launched a new uncomplicated digitally-led insurance product at point of sale. weFix was also the recipient of the Top Contents Repair Specialist from Discovery Insure for 2017.

2016 saw the introduction of global drone leader, DJI, both in sales and repairs and gaining weFix repair accreditation – certifying their first authorised DJI repair technicians, making a bold play for the booming drone market. This continued their extension from consumers to B2B to trade business via a new wholesale division which distributes and sells via Takealot, JD Group (Incredible Connection, Hifi Corp), Kaap Agri, Cape Union Mart, and Massmart (Dion Wired and Makro).

“It’s more than just inking an agreement, it’s about collaborating with attentive buyers, meeting their needs and training their team, so that stock is available as best possible and the teams are integrated,” says Webster. “Corporates requiring a tailor-made pickup and drop-off service in a bid to save time, and as a staff perk, can get devices fixed in rapid turnaround times, managed from end-to-end, by relationship managers and offering corporate accounts. For large retailers, we literally repair thousands of devices per year.”

The most exciting part of the weFix journey is that they needed to get the infrastructure right first to hold the capacity for more brands across all stores. That means understanding the brands, training our technicians, buying parts in for the stores, having dedicated workshops in both Cape Town and Johannesburg. weFix are now able to onboard new brands into a robust environment that global brands can depend on. Webster concludes, “It makes absolute sense to outsource your warranty repairs to the leader in the industry. Our track record is the best endorsement we have. It’s just the beginning for us, it’s a new horizon for our business.”

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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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