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SMEs adapt to IT

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The evolution of IT means that SMEs no longer need to be responsible for IT in the traditional sense. In fact, they have surpassed their larger counterparts as early adopters of cloud-based services, writes BRIAN TIMPERLEY, MD of Turrito Networks

The SME’s requirements are clear: compute, connect, communicate, and backup their data. The hosted environment provides the perfect way to do just that. It offers scalability, redundancy, and security; all with enormous convenience and highly cost effective.

But, the one critical enabler for all of this, of course, is internet connectivity.

After all, cloud-enabled businesses rely on uninterrupted connectivity, in some ways even more than they rely on electricity.

South African businesses have adapted well to having standby batteries, solar backups and generators at the ready for when Eskom decides to fail us. But in the same way, businesses need to have backups for when their Internet provision fails. Fortunately, because there is competition in the connectivity market between access mediums, as well as between providers, second- and third-tier failover options are available.

SMEs are developing much closer and more demanding relationships with their connectivity and ICT providers. They need partners who can help them make strategic decisions about which services and infrastructure to invest in, and how to get the best available service within their budget. Now more than ever, customer service is a critical differentiator.

As a result of the commoditization of technology, service and solution providers need to find ways to differentiate themselves beyond their products. The current situation is that very few people trust the intentions of ISPs, and to some extent, this is warranted as the interest of the customer is often secondary to the bottom line of the business.

For example, if you are a network provider, it is in your interest to sell your network solutions irrespective of whether there is a perfect customer fit or not.

The service and solutions providers best suited to a changing ICT environment will be the ones who have zero interest in specific vendor solutions – the aggregators, who consider the best interests of the customer.  The companies able to excel are those that can provide multiple tailored models as opposed to one specific solution – it is a case of providing customers with service levels that show they are not small fish in a big pond. Businesses that rely on a single network provider for their connectivity are putting themselves at risk.

Businesses, irrespective of size, should be able to move if one network is no longer serving their needs – or even a combination of networks – without changing your service provider. This, we believe, is the link that’s been missing in the industry.

The ideal solution is to become aligned with a service provider who offers the business service layer that links multiple networks to multiple clients.

And this is exactly what SMEs are starting to do.

Technology is a means to an end – not a business feature that takes hold of them and prevents them from going about their day-to-day operations. For those SMEs willing to embrace this new order, the inevitable next step is to leave their more traditional competitors in their wake.

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Inside Netflix: Quest for content will sweep Africa

In the second of a series of behind-the-scenes reports from Netflix studios, ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK discovers an appetite for new stories.

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It may have started out as a better way to rent movies, but now Netflix is revolutionising the entire American film and TV industries. That’s not news. The next big shift, however, is likely to be the transformation of content production worldwide, and Africa is squarely in the Netflix sights.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles, last week, chief product officer Greg Peters said that South Africa and Nigeria were among the many key markets in which it expected to make significant investments in content.

Greg Peters at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re looking to increasingly find storytellers from around the world, especially ones who haven’t been able to tell the story they want because traditional production partners are not willing to tell it, or they can’t find a big enough audience,” he said.

“Our job is to provide a platform, both a production platform, and then a distribution platform, because we are really good at finding audiences that are much much bigger than any storyteller has ever been able to find before. We’re going to invest in every part of the world, including Africa.”

Peters emphasised the need for fresh stories, as opposed to those that repeated traditionally popular formulae.

“We feel like it’s exciting that we don’t have a lot of restrictions. We want compelling stories, a strong vision, authentic story telling, that can come from a whole different range of formats. To open up storytelling in ways that was not opened before.”

Peters was speaking at the end of a two-day Netflix event called Labs Day, which exposed a small group of media from around the world to the inner workings of the business.

Peters revealed that, when he joined Netflix in 2008, he was just one of eight people working on streaming. At that stage, the company was making most of its money from distributing movies on DVD through the mail, with subscriptions and orders managed entirely on the Web.

Click here to read about how Netflix was founded, what it meant to competitors, and what Netflix means to traditional pay-TV.

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Apple unveils TV+ and News+ subscription service

Apple’s video streaming service is set to launch in over 100 countries in the second half of this year, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Late to the premium video streaming game, Apple has unveiled its video streaming platform called Apple TV+.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced yesterday that the service will feature Apple Original content, along with a redesigned Apple TV app that integrates major TV streaming platforms like Hulu and HBO directly into the Apple TV app.

In maintaining the company’s premium image, Cook claims the service will be the “destination for the highest-quality originals”. He backed the statement by handing over to multi-Oscar winning director Steven Speilberg who led the company’s “The Storyteller’s Behind” video. The video below shows off big Hollywood names, including J.J. Abrams, Jennifer Aniston, M. Night Shyamalan, Octavia Spencer, Reese Witherspoon, endorsing TV Plus.

Speilberg announced he would be bringing the 93-year-old Amazing Stories book series to TV on Apple’s streaming service. Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Steve Carrell discussed their involvement in a predominantly women-hosted Morning Show that deals with “issues that are spoken about behind closed doors”. The stage was filled with major TV personalities, including Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones), Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley), Big Bird (Sesame Street), and even Oprah.

Apple still has some catching up to do, because Netflix has already spent billions on acquiring and creating new content in 2019 alone.

In a move to remain competitive, subscribers to the service will have access to Apple TV+ through the new Apple TV app on iOS, Mac, Roku, Fire TV, and smart TVs from Samsung and LG, among other.

But will this service be sustainable for Apple in an already saturated market? Mark Skilton, professor of practice at Warwick Business School, said: “Apple TV is not just about seeking a new growth market, it is about a technical shift to “connected smart services” of the future that offer everything online.

“But is Apple going to beat Netflix? Even if they roll out the red carpet for movie stars, it will be a challenge for Apple to provide a compelling new TV experience.”

The service is set to launch in over 100 countries by the end of the year.

Click here to read about Apple News+.

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