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Vodacom rewards KZN journalists

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This year’s Vodacom Journalist of the Year Awards drew over 1 000 entries from all over the country. The KwaZulu-Natal regional awards took place on 17 October and journalists were recognised in 12 categories.

The theme for the awards this year is ‘Your Word’, and promotes the integrity of journalism across all media.

“We are delighted to announce the regional winners in KwaZulu-Natal for the 2017 Awards, which honour journalists from around the country by recognising their best work from the past year. We look forward to welcoming them at the national finals,” said Takalani Netshitenzhe, Chief Officer for Corporate Affairs at the Vodacom Group. “I would also like to pay tribute to the judges, who year after year provide their expertise and knowledge in the adjudication of these prestigious awards, thereby ensuring the integrity of the process. Thanks go to Ryland Fisher, Mary Papayya, Arthur Goldstuck, Elna Rossouw, Patricia McCracken, Nikiwe Bikitsha, Megan Rusi,  Mathatha Tshedu, Albe Grobbelaar and Obed Zilwa.”

The judges faced a tough job processing entries that were of a very high standard. This year KwaZulu-Natal journalists submitted 101 entries in total.

Convenor of the judging panel Ryland Fisher says: “The entries across the 12 categories were excellent this year. Our criteria for judging is to look for entries that could possibly make the cut for the national finals, and the overall prize of R100 000 for the journalist of the year award. KwaZulu-Natal journalists can be proud of the work they have done and we look forward to even more entries from this region next year.”

There were 12 categories:

  • CSI/Sustainability
  • Young Journalist
  • Financial/Economic
  • Online
  • Photography
  • Print Feature
  • Print News
  • Radio Feature
  • Radio News
  • Sport
  • Television Feature;
  • and Television News.

Regional winners for the KwaZulu-Natal Region were announced today at a function at the Protea Hotel Umhlanga Ridge in Durban. Winners in the Regional categories each took home R5 000, with the exception of the Young Journalist of the Year regional finalist, who received a certificate. All the regional winners go through to the national awards in Johannesburg on 16 November 2017.

The winners of the 2017 Vodacom Journalist of the Year Regional Awards in the KwaZulu-Natal region are:

2017 Radio News

The best radio news reporting demands the ability to identify a good story and then also to find and expose the story behind the story. These critically important skills were clearly displayed by the collection of work entered by the regional winner and including stories on albinism, muti killings, and the rape of a 10-year-old child. The winner is: Vusi Khumalo of SABC News.

2017 Radio Feature

An integral part of a good Radio Feature is innovative use of different sound elements. The regional winner used sound creatively, making the listener take note of – and become involved in – the stories. For his collection of entries, including the Jozini pupils who have to cross a crocodile-infested river every day, and the plight of a baby left disabled after being hospitalised, the award goes to: Vusi Khumalo of SABC Radio.

2017 Sport

Two Sport features in this region stood out so strongly for the judges that they declared them joint winners. One entry was solid investigative work and tenacious journalism, ultimately unearthing allegations of bribery in KwaZulu-Natal cricket. The other entry was an inspirational story of a stubborn young women who overcame massive physical challenges to achieve her swimming dreams. The joint regional winners are: Myron Naicker and Terence Stone of eNCA for the TV report “KZN cricket scandal”; AND Quintin van Jaarsveld of eHowzit for the online report, “Swimming upstream”.

2017 Sustainability

Excellent in-depth reporting is the hallmark of the specialist CSI/Sustainability category. This year’s regional winner capitalised on information supplied by a well-developed network of sources to tear holes in what we thought we knew, making corporates rethink their greening strategies and consumers question their lifestyles. For a strongly researched but succinctly and energetically narrated investigation into the unsuspected reality that almost every single one of our plastic shopping bags cannot currently be recycled, the winner is: Wendy Knowler of Tiso Blackstar for ‘Bags of lies’.

2017 Print News

Corruption continues to bedevil South African society, even affecting access to university education with attempts made to bypass the UKZN quota system used to apportion admission between Africans, “coloureds”, whites, “Indians” and others. For a print news story that revealed how Indian students who could not crack the academic threshold found that a R500 000 bribe could smuggle them in as “coloureds” and that led to the arrest of alleged masterminds, the winner is: Nabeelah Shaikh of the Sunday Tribune for ‘For sale: A place at medical school’.

2017 Print Feature

Sometimes an abnormality persists for so long that we all seem to forget the pressing need to normalise. Since 1994, segregation and apartheid should have had no place in our country but single-sex workers’ hostels are one relic that persist. Those where men were herded together for months without their spouses often became powder kegs of unrest, masking the fact that there were women’s hostels too – and still are. About 4,000 women and children are crammed into Durban’s Thokoza hostel. The space was built for fewer than half that number and no man is ever allowed inside. The print feature winners, who forcibly reminded us of the hell hole that is Thokoza, are: Tania Broughton and Thuli Dlamini of The Times for ‘Inside apartheid’s hostel’.

2017 Online

The most powerful online stories tend to become more than a digital artefact, also having an impact in the real world. The winning online story combined strong human interest and political scandal. The winner for breaking, tenaciously pursuing, and leading the media follow up of this story is: Giordano Stolley of African News Agency for ‘KZN cancer treatment meltdown brings woman to brink of death’.

2017 Financial/Economic

An in-depth investigation in the Financial and Economic field can take many guises and this category rewards excellent in-depth reporting across any medium. The winner depicted and analysed popular outrage, corporate cost-saving and environmental laissez faire in a well-balanced TV feature that investigated the wheeling and dealing around the Enviroserv landfill controversy. The winner is: Julie Laurenz of Nguni TV for SABC2’s 50/50 for “Kicking up a stink”.

Photography

It is not often that a single image illuminates the essence of an individual, but the patience and passion of this photographic journalist paid off. The resulting image captured the attention of the country with a portrait of notorious criminal Ananis Mathe, a convicted serial rapist and armed robber and serial prison escaper, in C Max Prison but still evoking the horrors that his many victims must have faced. The winner is: Thuli Dlamini of The Times for “The evil eye.”

2017 Television News

Sadly, the fact that too many learners still have to get up early and walk hours to school is not new in our country. But that does not mean that we should give up telling the story of the plight of these learners. For fresh and effective highlighting of this issue, the winner is: Buhle Khumalo of SABC Television News for ‘River’.

2017 Television Feature

An excellent television feature might need to be nurtured for weeks or even months – or a resourceful journalist could find and work sources in a few hours to plug a gap and ensure that a hungry news editor is not disappointed. For uncovering an insurance scam where policies were taken out on victims before killing them, the winners are: Dasen Thathiah and Nkanyiso Mdlalose of eNCA for the series, ‘Greytown Scam’.

Young Journalist Award

The winner in the region receives a certificate and goes through to the national round to compete for the overall prize. The overall award provides an opportunity to fast-track a young journalist’s professional and personal development through an all-expenses paid overseas trip that includes a visit to the renowned Thomson Foundation, as well as the opportunity to work in a newsroom. To enter this category a journalist should have worked in the media for up to, but not more than, three years, and be able to demonstrate their potential through their entries. The KwaZulu-Natal winner is Sbongakonke Mbatha from SABC News.

Africa News

Smart grids needed for Africa’s utilities

Power utilities across Africa should rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem, says COLIN BEANEY, Global Industry Director for Asset-intensive and Energy and Utilities at IFS.

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Africa’s abundant natural resources and urgent need for power mean that it is one of the most exciting and innovative energy markets in a world that is moving rapidly towards clean, renewable energy sources. The continent’s energy industry is taking new approaches to providing unserved and underserved communities with access to power, with an emphasis on smart technologies and greener energy sources.

Power systems are evolving from centralised, top-down systems as interest in off-grid technology grows among African businesses and consumers. And according to PwC, we will see installed power capacity rise from 2012’s 90GW to 380GW in 2040 in sub-Saharan Africa. Power utilities are needing to rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem.

Energy and utilities providers are transforming from centralised supply companies to more distributed, bi-directional service providers. They can only achieve this through the evolution of “smart grids” where sensors and smart meters will be able to provide the consumer with a more granular level of detail of power usage. This shift from an energy supplier to “lifestyle provider” will require a much more dynamic and optimised approach to maintenance and field service.

African companies must thus embrace digital transformation as an imperative. This transformation begins by embracing enterprise asset management to improve asset utilisation. The subsequent steps are enhancing upstream and downstream supply chain management; resource optimisation; introducing enterprise operational intelligence; embracing new technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and predictive maintenance; and becoming a smart utility.

Embracing mobility to drive ROI

Getting it right is about putting in place an enterprise backbone that accommodates asset and project management, multinational languages and currencies, new energies and markets, visualisation of the entire value chain, and mobility apps. Mobile technologies that support the field workforce have a vital role to play in driving better ROI from utilities’ investments in enterprise asset management and enterprise resource planning solutions.

Today’s leading enterprise asset management solutions feature powerful functionality for mobile management of the complete workflow of work orders – from logging status changes and updates, from receiving and creating new orders to concluding the job and reporting time, material and expenses. Such solutions are easy to deploy and intuitive for end users to learn and use.

Importantly for organisations operating in parts of the continent with poor telecoms infrastructure, connectivity is not an issue. The solutions work offline and synchronises when network connectivity is available. Users can work on any device—laptops, tablets, and smartphones—commercial or ruggedised.

By ensuring that field technicians have easy access to information and processes, the mobile solution enables technicians and maintenance engineers to easily do the following tasks:

·         Create a new work order on the fly and log new opportunities

·         Access both historical and planned work information when requested

·         Permit customers to sign when the job is completed

·         Capture measurements and inspection notes on route work orders

·         Create new fault reports on routing

·         Facilitate documentation through photo capturing

·         Provide easy access to technical data and preventive actions.

The power of mobility allows the engineer to be the origin of all data capture on a service event. They can easily inquire on asset history, record parts used or parts needed for repair, record labour hours, and expenses as they occur, and any notes of repairs performed. When coupled with workforce management tools, such solutions unlock significant productivity gains for utilities who are trying to get the most from their workforce and assets.

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Brands fall for app vanity

The experience of a mobile screen full of icons, representing independent apps that your need to open to experience them, is making less sense. Instead, businesses should serve customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the digital platform they already use, says PIETER DE VILLIERS, Group CEO at Clickatell.

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Many brands remain obsessed with creating mobile apps. This not only defies trends that point to increasing consumer app apathy, but can exclude a sizeable portion  of your customers in emerging economies. Companies need to engage with their users where they are rather than forcing them onto an app, in what can only be described as brand vanity. 

In 2017 there were around 2.2 million apps available in the iOS app store and over 3 million on Google Play. And, while the number of apps being downloaded continues to rise, analysis shows that consumers are only using 30 apps per month and accessing just 9 on a day-to-day basis. 

While these numbers still seem attractively high, in reality the majority of the apps we use are for messaging (like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat) and our social networking, gaming, leisure, dating or utility activities. 

Despite the facts, the application strategy as the holy grail for digital transformation is still being pushed even within large progressive brands. What’s more, some advertising agencies and digital consultants are still pushing apps as the best means for companies to connect with their customers. This has resulted in some organisations stubbornly doubling down on app strategies which are simply not showing return on investment (ROI). 

It’s not immediately clear to us whether the fascination with apps is a roll-over from long overdue projects or whether brand owners equate a mobile-first strategy with a mobile app. Mobile-first in 2018 means customer first, and therefore embracing chat commerce in order to deliver services with convenience and simplicity in mind. 

Why apps won’t win the internet

The problem with apps goes beyond user fatigue. In the first instance, many apps are poorly designed, assuming technical sophistication which may not match reality for the average customer. Poor user interfaces and attempts to provide complex engagement can result in even the best ideas missing their targets due to lack of engagement. 

Secondly, we all know that economic realities drive consumer behaviour. In Africa, new mobile phone users typically opt for feature phones over smartphones. With a longer battery life and a much more accessible price point, feature phones still allow for a basic internet connection, chat platforms like WhatsApp, and call and message functionality. In these regions, the cost of an app – even if it’s free – goes far beyond installing it. Constant updates require reliable and cheap access to the internet. For the average phone owner in an emerging market, this can be a serious challenge. 

Thirdly, and most importantly, apps must be relevant to their intended market. Frequency of usage is a key measure of relevance. 

Apps which are used on a daily basis, like health and fitness trackers, enjoy constant engagement. New features which are added are eagerly awaited by users who are happy to update their apps. 

However, users may well question the relevance of the app if they are required to conduct updates on a monthly or even weekly basis when they are only making use of the app once or twice a year. 

On average, I download one app per quarter. Some I use more frequently than others, but all of these apps need to be regularly updated to maintain security, update features, and fix bugs. Many apps are pushing out updates much more frequently. I noticed over the past year that I could go from having all apps updated, to 32 apps requiring an update in five days.

When it comes to a customer-first digital strategy, companies should be asking themselves if an app is really the best way to reach their target audience. 

In fact, at the end of 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2019, 20 percent of brands would ditch their mobile app. What’s more, in its 2018 predictions, the company forecast that by 2021, more than 50 percent of corporations would spend more per annum on bots and chatbots than on mobile app development. 

So, we need to ask, what is the alternative for CIOs, CDOs, CMOs, and digital leaders who are looking for ways to reach, retain and grow their customer base? 

The logical app alternative 

The old battle advice goes: fight your enemy where they are not. Military strategists agreed that having your enemy come to you and fight you on your own terms was preferable. In a world where customers have access to thousands of offerings and millions of deals online, we need to flip that idea to Meet Your Customers Where They Are. 

Any marketeer will tell you just a how difficult it is to drive app downloads. Development, cross platform testing and user interface aside, the marketing campaign required to get customers to download the app can swallow entire annual budgets and still come up short. 

Looking at the facts, it makes infinitely more sense to work within the digital platforms already being used by your target audience. 

Clickatell is already enabling chat commerce for some of the leading global brands with its Touch solution. This allows organisations to serve their customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the chat or browser platform of their customer’s choice (Twitter, Facebook Messenger, etc.) 

Brands can now send an actionable Touch link such as ‘find the nearest ATM’ or ‘reset my password’ within a chat stream that will open an intuitive touch card without the user having to download an app to perform the action. Services can also be linked to the in-app experience for brands not looking to abandon their app efforts. 

Working with our clients, many of whom are global innovators and thought leaders, we’ve found that having the courage to design with an ‘end user first’ approach and dealing with the back-end complexity behind the scenes results in cost efficient customer delight and ROI. 

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