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Why tech pioneers must be more responsible

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Companies perusing new opportunities also need to assume a corporate responsibility as those who compete in these areas will agree to be bound by rules, says HANS ZACHAR, MD for Technology Strategy at Accenture in SA.

As pioneering companies pursue boundary-breaking opportunities, they must assume a new corporate responsibility. The concept of trust and good corporate citizenship will increasingly come to the fore as those who willingly compete in these new and exciting areas willingly agree to be bound by rules, or lose their ability to play on the stage if they do not.

About 65% of IT and business executives surveyed in the Tech Vision 2017 report believe that regulations in their industry have not been able to keep up with the pace of technology advancement. There is little doubt that new age entrepreneurs will continue to move faster than legislators.

Some form of self-regulation appears inevitable if progress is not to be hampered, but a new set of rules will need to be codified to set the boundaries. These developments are likely to include the pioneers themselves helping to form the laws and regulations that govern privacy, data ethics and security.

A few recent examples highlight how companies have realised they need to keep moving to ensure their idea is not stifled. Amazon announced its intent to pilot a service using drones to deliver packages. While an initial set of regulations around the concept was worked on in the US, Amazon took the concept overseas to conduct the pilot, fine tune the service and launch its first delivery in the UK at the end of 2016.

Businesses in Africa and across the globe are also assembling joint task forces or collaborating with competitors to write rules where nothing exists. Last year, 25 startups united to launch a Bitcoin Smart Contract Federation in the belief that Bitcoin offers a more mature, tested and secure alternative to other smart contract platforms. By building the platform, they are creating the rules for others who will join this ecosystem in the future.

In February this year Standard Bank joined the blockchain consortium R3 to explore the technology and its uses – 75 global financial institutions form part of the network, with Absa having joined in 2016.

It is clear that waiting on the sidelines for rules to change and technology standards to solidify is not going to work.

Other emerging technologies include:

•Differential privacy–Integrates digital ethics and privacy standards for companies by receiving data in such a way that individual identifiers are never collected.

•Smart contract technology–Offers an automated way to enforce contracts whether the counter-party is trusted or not. Smart contracts design-in the rules for a value exchange and can be self-exercising or self-enforcing.

•Homomorphic encryption–Implements data sharing and transformations that are performed exclusively with encrypted data, decrypting it only when a user needs to see a result.

In this dynamic new world businesses are not just creating new products and services but are shaping new digital industries. From technology standards, to ethical norms, to government mandates, in an ecosystem-driven digital economy, the Tech Vision survey highlighted that a wide scope of rules still needs to be defined.

To drive governance and accountability, leading enterprises will increasingly embed the newly defined rules and standards into the technologies themselves. It is therefore no surprise that 78% of the executives we surveyed agree that their organization feels it has a duty to be proactive in writing the rules for emerging industries.

We have to fast forward to a world in which advances increase a thousand fold from where they are today and consider how on earth rules will change quickly enough. There will be a need for some level of speedier automation in legislation, as well as a level of self-regulation when change overshoots existing rules.

True authentication and verification could, for example, take place through a bureau service. South Africa has an awesome opportunity to use its population register to create a digitally managed single point of authentication – you just link to it securely and get confirmation. This is also a fabulous way to prevent fraudulent transactions from taking place.

At the end of the day, speed and efficiency remain critical to maximising outcomes in the uncharted world of the future and to fulfil their digital ambitions, companies must take on a leadership role to help shape the new rules of the game. Third world growth economies have a huge opportunity as they are not bound by legacy structures and modes of thinking. African businesses in particular must seize the opportunities created by the eco-system driven digital economy. Discovery is already a great example of how a company can create a single platform which is then provided to global insurance companies.

The huge benefit Africa has is the lack of established retail networks – these are encumbrances of developed markets – Africa can leapfrog them as it embraces these new channels for doing business, which in the future will be far more profitable than traditional bricks and mortar structures.

It will also be important to realise that to successfully implement an idea on the scale required, help from elsewhere will be needed. Most service organisations unfortunately still have pretty rigid conditions, terms and modes of thinking that will only prove to be a barrier to entry. The Google’s and Amazon’s of the world will not wait for you.

However, as rules are not yet advanced enough and much of the current processes within companies are outdated, it is important to keep in mind that when you release your innovation you must make sure you are secure enough and anticipate potential loopholes.

There’s a whirlwind of disruptive activity happening across industries and as these early pivot points of new industries develop, organisations will need to changes the way we see the world and how they embrace risk.

There is no doubt companies will be able to partner best with others that have the same security and technology standards, as well as similar ethical values and commitment to social responsibility.

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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