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Tech in business no longer why, but how

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How does one a great customer experiences? How will a multi-cloud strategy support this? How can a business empower employees? And how does mobile tech create productive experiences. These are a few questions KIRSTEN COX of VMware addresses.

Creating outstanding experiences for customers and employees, whose expectations have changed, is the new transformation battleground. This was a prominent theme emerging from VMworld, as was the news that industry re-shaping technologies – like cloud, mobile and security – are very much making this a reality rather than a distant vision. Yet while it may be the case that most organisations now recognise the why? why change? It is the how? How do I do this? has taken centre stage.

How do I create those outstanding customer experiences? How will a multi-cloud strategy support this? How can I really empower my employees? And how do mobile technologies create exciting and productive experience for them? Each are questions that the business and IT teams are asking themselves as they prepare for this profound era of transformation – across all market segments – and thankfully, each can be answered by VMware and its extensive base of 33,000 partners across EMEA.

Our industry-envied ecosystem of partners is the essential ingredient in delivering these cutting edge technologies and techniques that offer real business value to organisations seeking how to change. The how is addressed through delivering against what we see as four strategic IT customer priorities in order to put IT on the front-foot of transformation: to stand out from their market competition by creating outstanding user experiences and engagement.

We see these priorities as modernising the data centre to support business innovation and growth; enabling businesses to integrate public clouds, providing cloud freedom and choice while ensuring the best possible cloud use . Empowering digital workspaces, to enable employees to be productive wherever they are and making sure the right individual has access to the right information; and critically, transforming security so that data, apps, devices, data centres and clouds are compliant and secure.

At the most recent VMworld Europe we provided even more fire-power to help businesses, government departments and service providers benefit from cloud, mobile, security and network function virtualisation (NFV) technologies, for example:

It is validation for our partners and customers to know of the momentum these technologies are gathering in the market. VMware has 10,000 Virtual SAN customers, up from 8,000 last quarter, which is the fastest growth since ESX, and our Cloud Provider Programme has grown 30%.  All of the advanced technologies including NSX and EUC are growing at double or triple digit rates, in many cases faster than the forecasted CAGR from the analysts.

IDC has forecast that 77% of businesses plan to leverage a multi-cloud strategy within the next two years. Gartner predict that the hyper-converged Infrastructure (HCI) market is expected to be $8.5B by 2020. This is just a snapshot at the huge market opportunity that customers and partners alike have today.

Partnering with Perfection

 At VMware we recognise that it is our partners who play a central role in helping to make all of this a reality, by creating deeper partnerships with cloud providers, including our extensive Cloud Provider Program partners as well as partnerships with IBM and AWS. They are the ones building and maintaining relationships with end user organisations, speaking to them day in and day out on the challenges they’re having and providing an array of different solutions and capabilities to ensure they are able to meet their priorities and business outcomes.

Testament to this at the show this year, was the challenge that leading UK furniture retailer DFS encountered, as it needed to quickly handle an increase in customer mobile and online shopping habits. Working alongside our Cloud Provider Programme partner Rackspace, it opted for a cloud-first infrastructure, that helped to transform the company, providing it with an infrastructure that could scale on demand and keep one step ahead of the competition. This improved online and mobile customer experience has helped DFS achieve market leading status, reporting double digit increases in sales for the past three years.

We are also working with our partners to help organisations deliver real societal impact. Take cloud services provider Node Africa for example, which successfully helped InteliPro, a data science consultancy based in Kenya, build a bespoke solution for the East Africa Farmer’s Federation. With the help of Node Africa, InteliPro has been able to successfully build cloud-based analysis tools that grant farmers easy access to financial services and credit they would not normally qualify for.

As Pat Gelsinger stated in his keynote, technology is breaking out of the tech sector and completely transforming entire industries. Yet despite the advancements we have made, there is still a universe of possibilities ahead, for us, for our partners and industry and government. Industry-reshaping technologies are helping organisations to become extraordinary, redefining how they interact with users to compete, and connecting each of us with information in ways not previously possible. It is the collective might of us joining with our partners that will fuel their transformation: firstly by delivering the how and secondly by allowing them to then realize what is possible.

  • Kirsten Cox, Vice President Marketing, EMEA, VMware.

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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