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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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Samsung S10 in lock-step with its rivals?

Tonight Samsung will kick off the next round in the smartphone wars with the S10 range, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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When Samsung unveils the new S10 smartphone at an event in San Francisco today, it will mark the beginning of the 2019 round of World War S. That stands for smartphone wars, although Samsung would like it to be all about the S.

Ever since the launch of the Samsung Galaxy S4 in 2013, Samsung has held both technology and thought leadership in the handset world. Back then, Apple’s iPhone 5 was the last device from the American manufacturer that could lay claim to being the best smartphone in the world. With the 2013 launch of the iPhone 5s, Apple entered an era of incremental improvement, playing catch-up, and succumbing to market trends driven by its competitors.

Six years later, Samsung is fighting off the same threat. Its Chinese rival, Huawei, suddenly wrested away leadership in the past year, with the P20 Pro and Mate 20 Pro regarded as at last equal to the Samsung Galaxy S9 Plus and Galaxy Note 9 – if not superior. Certainly, from a cost perspective, Huawei took the lead with its more competitive prices, and therefore more value for money.

Huawei also succeeded where Apple failed: introducing more economical versions of its flagship phones. The iPhone 5c, SE and XR have all been disappointments in the sales department, mainly because the price difference was not massive enough to attract lower-income users. In contrast, the Lite editions of the Huawei P9, P10 and P20 have been huge successes, especially in South Africa.

Today, for the first time in half a decade, Samsung goes into battle on a field laid out by its competitors. It is expected to launch the Galaxy S10 Plus, S10 and S10 e, with the latter being the Samsung answer to the strategy of the iPhone XR and Huawei P20 Lite.

Does this mean Samsung is now in lock-step with its rivals, focused on matching their strategies rather than running ahead of them?

It may seem that way, but Samsung has a few tricks up its electronic sleeve. For example, it is possible it will use the S10 launch to announce its coming range of foldable phones, expected to be called the Galaxy X, Galaxy F, Galaxy Fold or Galaxy Flex. It previewed the technology at a developer conference in San Francisco last November, and this will be the ideal moment to reclaim technology leadership by going into production with foldables – even if the S10 range itself does not shoot out the lights.

However, the S10 handsets will look very different to their predecessors. First, before switching on the phone, they will be notable by the introduction of what is being called the punch-hole display, which breaks away from the current trend of having a notch at the top of the phone to house front-facing cameras and speakers. Instead, the punch-hole is a single round cut-out that will contain the front camera. It is the key element of Samsung’s “Infinity O” display – the O represents the punchhole – which will be the first truly edge-to-edge display, on the sides and top.

The S10 range will use the new Samsung user interface, One UI, also unveiled at the developer conference. It replaces the previous “skin”, unimaginatively called the Samsung Experience, to introduce a strong new interface brand.

One UI went live on the Note 8 last month, giving us a foretaste, and giving Samsung a chance to iron out the bugs in the field. It is a less cluttered interface, addressing one of the biggest complaints about most manufacturer skins. Only Nokia and Google Pixel handsets offer pure Android in the local market, but One UI is Samsung’s best compromise yet.

It introduces a new interaction area, in the bottom half, reachable with the thumb, with a viewing area at the top, allowing the user to work one-handed on the bottom area while still having apps or related content visible above. One UI also improves gesture navigation – the phone picks up hand movements without being touched – and notification management.

The S10 range will be the first phones to feature the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip, at least for the South African and American markets. That makes it 5G compatible, for when this next generation of mobile broadband becomes available in these markets.

They will also be the first phones to feature Wi-Fi 6, the next generation of the Wi-Fi mobile wireless standard. It will perform better in congested areas, and data transfer will be up to 40% faster than the previous generation.

The phones will be the first to use ultrasound for fingerprint detection. If Samsung gets it right, this will make it the fastest in-screen fingerprint sensor on the market, and allows for a little leeway if one pushes the finger down slightly outside the fingerprint reader surface. It does mean, however, that screen protectors will have to be redesigned to avoid blocking the detection.

Not enough firsts? There are a few more.

Most notably, it will be the first phone range to feature 1 Terabyte (TB) storage – that’s a thousand Gigabytes (GB) – at least for the top-of-the-range devices. Samsung last month announced that it would be the first manufacturer to make 1TB built-in onboard flash storage. Today, it will deploy this massive advantage as it once again weaponises its technology in the fight for smartphone domination.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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IoT set to improve authentication

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By Sherry Zameer, Senior Vice President, Internet of Things Solutions for CISMEA region at Gemalto

As it rapidly approaches maturity, the Internet of Things (IoT) is set to continue a transformational trajectory, introducing new efficiencies in multiple fields by allowing measurement and analysis on a scale that has never been possible before. From agriculture to logistics, from retail to hospitality, from traffic to health, from the home to the office, the applications for monitoring ”things” are limited only by the imagination.

And South African (and African) businesses are showing abundant imagination in their practical deployments of IoT solutions in multiple settings, creating a better tomorrow through almost universal measurement and the introduction of new levels of convenience – including how to access locations, devices and services securely.

Any company, whether South African or international, should bear in mind that understanding consumer expectations can be the key to unlocking the full potential of IoT devices and related smart services.

According to Gemalto’s latest Connected Living study, improving the way consumers authenticate themselves to services is one of the most anticipated benefits of IoT, highlighting a desire for a more seamless and secure IoT experience.

Consumers are interested in advanced ways of authenticating themselves through automatic (based on behavioral patterns) or biometric techniques, lessening the need to have to intervene manually, all in the name of a much more streamlined authentication process. Smartphone manufacturers like Apple and Samsung have already placed fingerprint and facial recognition high on the agenda. There is also a widespread positive sentiment towards IoT’s potential for improving the quality of home life through connected, smart appliances.

Personalised services is something else that wins consumers over. In fact, a fluid, personalised and unified experience with continuity of services, together with security and privacy, is critical for the successful implementation of any technology.

And those types of services are today quite possible. With everything being connected – from small gadgets to digital solutions for large enterprises – IoT is no longer just a buzzword. That much is clear in a piece from Vodacom IoT managing executive Deon Liebenberg. Writing for IOL Online, Liebenberg provides insight into the sheer range of applications for IoT: the 20 use cases he cites range from the obvious, like transport and logistics, to the connected home and wearables; he even suggests tagging pets with IoT transmitters, for those who always need to know the whereabouts of the family cat.

Low-cost tags fitted to cats, dogs, lamp posts, shipping containers or other items are just one part of the puzzle, however. There are other two pieces; arguably the most complex part is the availability of communication networks in areas where there aren’t any WiFi networks, or indeed, anything else.

And that’s where the bigger takeaway from Liebenberg’s piece and other IoT trends articles becomes apparent. The communication networks are there, as are those tags: dedicated IoT networks (like LoraWAN, SigFox and narrowband IoT) are all available in South Africa.

So, too, is the third and final essential component. Software which is able to process the data generated by the tag and transmitted over the IoT network and into the internet. In this regard, there’s no shortage of solutions available from cloud providers like AWS and Azure; electronics giant Siemens, too, is in on the action, having recently launched a new cloud-based IoT operating system to develop applications and services for process industries, including oil and gas and water management.

This combination means it is quite possible right now to enable just about any use case. Business owners, who will know best how IoT can add value in their organisation, can now see their ideas becoming reality. Most crucial of all, IoT solutions delivering new levels of efficiency and convenience are not only possible, they are able to be offered with the simple and effective security that will drive consumer acceptance.

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