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SA on edge of business revolution

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The global business landscape is seeing many businesses digitise, largely due to the many ICT trends that are affecting businesses. As late adopters South African business stand to benefit immensely from these trends, writes Patrick Shield, CTO at Software AG.

Buzz phrases such as ‘enterprise digitisation’ are discussed among ICT and business industries alike with increasing frequency, but often hold little meaning to business decision makers who have historically left ICT initiatives to ICT-focussed departments. The global shift towards the digitisation of business, however, cannot be ignored by business leaders, and has become crucial to the survival of many organisations – with South African businesses being no exception.

“It’s vital for South Africa’s industry leaders to acknowledge that ICT and business objectives are no longer separate entities, and are in fact interdependent functions,” explains Patrick Shields, Chief Technology Officer at Software AG South Africa. Addressing delegates at the recent annual Software AG Innovation Day in Sandton, Shields explains: “The wall between ICT and business is slowly being broken down, and ICT is playing a far more active role in business than before. The importance of these departments collaborating closely cannot be underestimated, and all stakeholders need to be able to speak and understand the same language. Combining the value that both business and ICT jointly deliver, can lead to an exponential increase in an organisation’s effectiveness, agility and profitability.”

The global customer landscape is changing drastically, and quickly, and Shields explains that businesses need to adapt their offerings just as swiftly in order to remain relevant. “Currently, there are upwards of two billion internet users worldwide – seeing a third of the human population connected today,” he says. “Due to this, we are experiencing a 40% growth in data year on year, which is speeding up. This presents a significant opportunity for businesses that have poised themselves to access and harness this data. This is especially relevant for African enterprises that serve a continent of mobile enabled citizens and consumers”

Shields notes that the ability to ‘tap into’ data streams that describe customer and citizen behaviour presents unique opportunities to identify patterns, then program their existing systems to automatically respond to a range of ‘time sensitive’ scenarios. “This can have a profound effect on functions such customer service, internal processes, faster response to structural and legislative changes, and the identification and resolution of problems, among many other benefits. Digitising these functions means that they will be faster and more effective, but at a lower operating costs.”

According to Shields, about 75% of businesses who are embracing the digital change fall within the conventional industry categories – such as financial services, manufacturing and logistics. These enterprises are taking the first steps of digitisation by changing from ‘paper based’ processes to automated business processes.

While the digital business trend has entrenched itself quite thoroughly in the world’s leading economies, South African businesses are relatively late adopters to this new approach, as South African businesses in general are appreciative of the risks involved. “The current economic challenges presented to South Africa’s organisations means that decision makers have a healthy apprehension when looking at projects without a thorough understanding of how it will work, as well as a thorough understanding and proof of the potential business value. South African decision makers do not want to invest time and resources into just another tool that sits on the shelf in their organisation, so it is crucial for software solution providers to prove value upfront, rather than promise the sky through convoluted sales-speak.”

“That being said, being late adopters to digital business puts South Africa in the beneficial position of being able to learn from the lessons of pioneers, who have already experienced a range of trials, errors, and successes which have led to optimised performance of software solutions,” Shields continues. “One of the most crucial takeaways for business decision makers is that digitising business in no way requires an expensive overhaul of existing systems in order to be implemented. Proper digitisation should not mandate a ‘Rip and Replace’ approach” he says. “Many organisations have already invested large amounts of time and money into creating and tailoring their existing systems, which are often thoroughly customised and carried large set-up costs. Rather than ripping and replacing expensive legacy systems and technology, our approach is to ‘wrap and re-use’ existing systems at a fraction of the cost, so that they remain and continue to function as designed, but are linked through a customisable integration layer.”

Shields explains that this integration layer, as seen in the word’s first Digital Business Platform, which was recently launched by Software AG in South Africa, connects existing systems to a central point of monitoring and management; is agile, allowing enterprises to quickly automate any form of business process, and gain real-time operational visibility through simple, practical dashboards.”

“Digital change is disrupting traditional business models like never before. The updating and evolving of processes that needs to take place within companies to address the ‘big change’ will define how these organisations will fare in the future,” he notes. “Essentially, the digitisation of business is a race – and companies need to keep ahead of the competition in order to survive and capitalize on the digital revolution. This is the compelling reason why companies should embrace digital change – either leverage its opportunities and take full advantage of the significant benefits it offers to your organisation, or get left behind and potentially face ‘business irrelevance’ or ‘technological extinction’ within the markets, customers and citizens that you serve,” concludes Shields.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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