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Skylanders gets Switched

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Activision Publishing has announced that Skylanders Imaginators will be ready to meet the next wave of gamers when the Nintendo Switch launches in March 2017. 

This March also marks the debut of some of Skylanders Imaginators’ most anticipated characters, as well as a brand-new expansion pack. Now Portal Masters all over the world can engage in new content, toys and experiences with the award-winning Skylanders Imaginators this spring!

No Portal of Power? No problem with Nintendo Switch. Skylanders Imaginators for Nintendo Switch provides gamers unique ways to play, including the introduction of a vast digital library that allows players to easily load and store 300+ toys from the Skylanders franchise directly to the new home gaming system.  The arrival of the digital library empowers players to take their Skylanders Imaginators adventure on-the-go whenever and however they want.

“Since the launch of the Skylanders Imaginators and Skylanders Creator, fans have made more than 25 million Imaginators using the expansive creation tools in the game and app. We couldn’t be more excited to extend that experience to Nintendo Switch players,” said Paul Reiche, co-founder and studio head, Toys for Bob. “We’ve seen some amazing Skylanders created, and as kids’ collections continue to grow, we’re proud to offer more depth and variety to fans in ways never before possible with this new system.”

“Skylanders Imaginators has ignited the imaginations of fans everywhere, and we’re looking forward to continuing to support their gameplay experiences with Nintendo Switch, along with new toys and content coming this year,” said Josh Taub, senior vice president of Skylanders Product Management, Activision. “There are now more than 300 million Skylanders toys in the hands of fans², which equates to nearly two toys sold every second since Skylanders Spyro’s Adventure launched.  And with the new season of the animated series Skylanders Academy slated for Netflix this fall, we are thrilled that fans can enjoy playing, watching and creating Skylanders no matter where they are.”

Building on the franchise’s signature gameplay and collectible toy experience, Skylanders Imaginators pushes the boundaries of innovation and imagination with the upcoming release of the Cursed Tiki Temple level pack. The Cursed Tiki Temple level pack takes kids on an all-new adventure as they unlock more than 100 new offerings for their Skylanders Imaginators – a first in franchise history! The pack comes with Sensei character Wild Storm who will unleash a new level to players; a life Creation Crystal; and an Imaginite Mystery Chest all for the suggested retail price of $29.99 on March 12 at participating retailers nationwide.

Skylanders Imaginators gives kids an unprecedented level of choice — including appearance, powers, abilities, names, catchphrases, musical themes and much more — to create the most unique Skylanders characters they can imagine.  This spring, fans can also be on the lookout for the arrival of new heroes in the world of Skylanders Imaginators, including Skylanders Sensei Grave Clobber. Once a great pharaoh who ruled the Golden Desert long ago, Grave Clobber was buried by his seven jealous brothers in an underwater tomb while he was sleeping.  He eventually rose from his watery grave, clobbered each of his brothers and became the perfect choice to be a Sensei trainer for the Brawler Class. This mummy may surprise you with his range of powers, packing a serious punch as well as telekinetic powers!

The game is rated 6+ by the PEGI system. The Cursed Tiki Temple level pack and new Skylanders Senseis will support all major gaming platforms including Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Wii U system; Xbox 360 and Xbox One video game and entertainment systems from Microsoft; and PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 computer entertainment systems. Skylanders Creator is a free app that players can download from iOS and Android app stores for select mobile devices. For more Skylanders information, visit: www.skylanders.com.

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IoT at starting gate

South Africa is already past the Internet of Things (IoT) hype cycle and well into the mainstream, writes MARK WALKER, associate vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa at International Data Corporation (IDC).

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Projects and pilots are already becoming a commercial reality, tying neatly into the 2017 IDC prediction that 2018 would be the year when the local market took IoT mainstream. Over the next 12-18 months, it is anticipated that IoT implementations will continue to rise in both scope and popularity. Already 23% are in full deployment with 39% in the pilot phase. The value of IoT has been systematically proven and yet its reputation remains tenuous – more than 5% of companies are reluctant to put their money where the trend is – thanks to the shifting sands of IoT perception and success rate.

There are several reasons behind why IoT implementations are failing. The biggest is that organisations don’t know where to start. They know that IoT is something they can harness today and that it can be used to shift outdated modalities and operations. They are aware of the benefits and the case studies. What they don’t know is how to apply this knowledge to their own journey so their IoT story isn’t one of overbearing complexity and rising costs.

Another stumbling block is perception. Yes, there is the futuristic potential with the talking fridge and intelligent desk, but this is not where the real value lies. Organisations are overlooking the challenges that can be solved by realistic IoT, the banal and the boring solutions that leverage systems to deliver on business priorities. IoT’s potential sits within its ability to get the best out of assets and production efficiencies, solving problems in automation, security, and environment.

In addition to this, there is a lack of clarity around return on investment, uncertainty around the benefits, a lack of executive leadership, and concerns around security and the complexities of regulation.  Because IoT is an emerging technology there remains a limited awareness of the true extent of its value proposition and yet 66% of organisations are confident that this value exists.

This percentage poses both a problem and opportunity. On one hand, it showcases the local shift in thinking towards IoT as a technology worth investing into. On the other hand, many companies are seeing the competition invest and leaping blindly in the wrong direction. Stop. IoT is not the same for every business.

It is essential that every company makes its own case for IoT based on its needs and outcomes. Does agriculture have the same challenges as mining? Does one mining company have the same challenges as another? The answer is no. Organisations that want their IoT investment to succeed must reject the idea that they can pick up where another has left off. IoT must be relevant to the business outcome that it needs to achieve. While some use cases may apply to most industries based on specific circumstances, there are different realities and priorities that will demand a different approach and starting point.

Ask – what is the business problem right now and how can technology be leveraged to resolve it?

In the agriculture space, there is a need to improve crop yields and livestock management, improve farm productivity and implement environmental monitoring. In the construction and mining industry, safety and emergency response are a priority alongside workforce and production management. Education shifts the lens towards improving delivery and quality of education, access to advanced learning methods and reducing the costs of learning.  Smart cities want to improve traffic and efficiently deliver public services and healthcare is focusing on wellness, reducing hospital admissions and the security of assets and inventory management.

The technology and solutions selected must speak to these specific challenges.

If there are no insights used to create an IoT solution, it’s the equivalent of having the fastest Ferrari on Rivonia Road in peak traffic. It makes a fantastic noise, but it isn’t going to move any faster than the broken-down sedan in the next lane. Everyone will be impressed with the Ferrari, but the amount of power and the size of the investment mean nothing. It’s in the wrong place.

What differentiates the IoT successes is how a company leverages data to deliver meaningful value-added predictions and actions for personalised efficiencies, convenience, and improved industry processes. To move forward the organisation needs to focus on the business outcomes and not just the technology. They need to localise and adapt by applying context to the problem that’s being solved and explore innovation through partnerships and experimentation.

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ERP underpins food tracking

The food traceability market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2022 as increased consumer awareness, strict governance requirements, and advances in technology are resulting in growing standardisation of the segment, says STUART SCANLON, managing director of epic ERP

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Just like any data-driven environment, one of the biggest enablers of this is integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

As the name suggests, traceability is the ability to track something through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. When it comes to the food industry, traceability must also enable stakeholders to identify the source of all food inputs that can include anything from raw materials, additives, ingredients, and packaging.

Considering the wealth of data that all these facets generate, it is hardly surprising that systems and processes need to be put in place to manage, analyse, and provide actionable insights. With traceability enabling corrective measures to be taken (think product recalls), having an efficient system is often the difference between life or death when it comes to public health risks.

Expansive solutions

Sceptics argue that traceability simply requires an extensive data warehouse to be done correctly, the reality is quite different. Yes, there are standard data records to be managed, but the real value lies in how all these components are tied together.

ERP provides the digital glue to enable this. With each stakeholder audience requiring different aspects of traceability (and compliance), it is essential for the producer, distributor, and every other organisation in the supply chain, to manage this effectively in a standardised manner.

With so many different companies involved in the food cycle, many using their own, proprietary systems, just consider the complexity of trying to manage traceability. Organisations must not only contend with local challenges, but global ones as well as the import and export of food are big business drivers.

So, even though traceability is vital to keep track of everything in this complex cycle, it is also imperative to monitor the ingredients and factories where items are produced. Having expansive solutions that must track the entire process from ‘cradle to grave’ is an imperative. Not only is this vital from a safety perspective, but from cost and reputational management aspects as well. Just think of the recent listeriosis issue in South Africa and the impact it has had on all parties in that supply chain.

Efficiency improvements

Thanks to the increasing digital transformation efforts by companies in the food industry, traceability becomes a more effective process. It is no longer a case of using on-premise solutions that can be compromised but having hosted ones that provide more effective fail-safes.

In a market segment that requires strict compliance and regulatory requirements to be met, cloud-based solutions can provide everyone in the supply chain with a more secure (and tamper-resistant) solution than many of the legacy approaches of old.

This is not to say ERP requires the one or the other. Instead, there needs to be a transition provided between the two scenarios that empowers those in the food supply chain to maximise the insights (and benefits) derived from traceability.

Now, more than ever, traceability is a business priority. Having the correct foundation through effective ERP is essential if a business can manage its growth and meet legislative requirements into the future.

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