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Why wearables make sense in any business

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Research shows that businesses spend 86% of their time on data input with employees waiting hours to be have access to that info. SANDRA CROUS, VP for Midmarket Africa & Middle East at Sage, believes that wearable or connected devices will have a dramatic decrease on the time taken for this data to be actionable.

Business owners and managers are sceptical about the hype around wearable computing, and rightly so. After all, the first incarnation of the Google Glass eyewear was an experiment that mostly failed, and while the Apple Watch has its fans, it’s safe to say that it has yet to set the world on fire.

Most businesspeople and employees will welcome slick, simple and connected wearable apps and devices that make their lives easier. Our global research shows that the average business spends 86% of its time on data entry and low-value tasks. Teams are forced to wait for between three and 24 hours for access to information about the business. And while this average business uses 13 different apps, only five are connected.

The growing maturity of wearable technologies offers solutions to these challenges. Google has now  reconceptualised Google Glass as a solution for industrial companies, with the new Glass Enterprise Edition headset, which will augment users’ vision by overlaying information onto what they see in the real world as they work.

Genuinely useful software emerges

In addition to the innovations we are seeing in wearable platforms, software developers are now putting more thought into how they can support wearable computers with genuinely useful applications. Next-generation cloud business solutions, like Sage Live, are optimised to work with wearable platforms like Apple Watch, giving you a convenient way to access or record information while you’re on the move.

While mobile phones and laptops gave us mobility, wearables now mean you can react instantaneously to business updates – and this can have a significant impact on your bottom line. For example, we envisage people enjoying features like these in the near future:

  • A procurement officer sees your purchase order alert on her smartwatch, and can discretely approve it while she’s sitting in a meeting.
  • Your sales manager gets an alert when a popular item is out of stock, so that he doesn’t sell something you don’t have in your inventory at his customer meeting; meanwhile, the merchandising team can be alerted to order more stock of the hot product.
  • Your technical team gets notified the moment a big order comes in so that they can allocate an engineer to do the installation.
  • The customer service head receives a message when an important customer has escalated a complaint.

Everywhere you go, take your business with you

Wearables free you from having to carry around a laptop, tablet, or even smartphone, while ensuring you can still access e-mail, make phone calls, or check your schedule. They also allow you to approve information straightaway – so you don’t need to take out your laptop to approve a receipt while you’re with a client.

Most new technologies go through a cycle of hype and disappointment before they become truly useful and mainstream—and wearables are not an exception to this rule. But we are starting to see them become as cool and useful as the fitness wearable you use to track your calorie intake and your cycling performance during your leisure time. Wearables will play as major a role in the future of accountancy, just as tablets and smartphones before them.

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AppDate: Shedding light in our times of darkness

SEAN BACHER’S app roundup highlights two load-shedding apps, along with South AfriCAM, NBA 2K Mobile, Virgin Mobile’s Spot 3.0 and SwiftKey.

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Load Shedding Notifier

With all the uncertainty about when South Africans will next be plunged into darkness by Eskom, the Load Shedding Notifier tries its best to keep up with Eskom’s schedule. The app is very simple to use. Download it, type an area in and click the save button. The app automatically tells you what load shedding stage Eskom is on, the times you can expect to start lighting candles and for how long to burn them.

Multiple areas can be added and one can switch between the different stages to see how each one will affect a certain area.

A grid status is also displayed, showing how strained the country’s electrical network is.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

EskomSePush Load Shedding App

EskomSePush does much the same as the Load Shedding Notifier, but allows multiple cities to be tracked. However, they may just want to rethink the name of the app if they want wider respectability.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

South AfriCAM

South AfriCAM enables users to add branded stickers and frames from popular lifestyle magazine titles to their posts, including Huisgenoot, YOU, Drum, Move!, TRUE LOVE, Women’s Health and Men’s Health. 

In the process, they can earn JETPoints for their social influence: through the app’s built-in JET8 social currency, users are rewarded for their engagement. For every in-app like, comment, and share, users earn JETPoints, which can be used to redeem products online or over the counter across more than 2 500 retail stores in South Africa. Users are additionally awarded JETPoints for cross-posting onto external social media networks.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

Click here to read about console quality graphics on a mobile phone, Virgin Money payments made easier, and an app that redesigns the keyboard.

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Drones to drive
Western Cape agritech

Aerobotics is set to change how farmers treat their crops by using drones and machine learning, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The Western Cape is poised to be a hotbed of innovation in the agritech sector, with drone piloting set to playing a major role in in the tech start-up scene.

This is the view of Tim Willis, chief operating officer of pioneering drone company Aerobotics, a Cape Town drone company recognised as a world leader in agritech.

“Drone piloting is a key skill that feeds into the value chain of the budding 4th Industrial Revolution,” said Willis. “Cape Town and the Western Cape is uniquely positioned to be the melting pot for innovation in the agritech sector, as a leading agricultural exporter and a hub for creative tech start-ups.”

He was speaking at AeroCon, a drone expo organised by Aerobotics and held in Johannesburg this week aimed at providing opportunities for drone pilots to apply their skills in South Africa, and to show how drones are being used to collect data on crops. 

The event was supported by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), Wesgro, PROMMAC, MicaSense, and Rectron, among other

“We’re starting to sign up farmers across the country,” said Willis. “It’s exciting because farmers are starting to use drone technology on their farms. When a farmer wants a drone flown, they want it flown [now] so it’s important for us to capture that data as quickly as possible to show that drones are fast and effective.”

According to aerobotics, drone technology can help farmers reduce pesticide use on their crops by up to 30%. The result is environmentally friendly farming, reducing stressed crops and a healthier harvest. 

“We use aerial imagery from drones to recreate a 3D model of every single tree on a farmer’s orchard,” said Willis. “We’ve done this for millions of trees and it starts to give the farmers metrics of what they’re doing. We provide them with the health of the trees, the height, the volume, the canopy area, which enable the farms to make decisions on what to do next.”

Click here to read more about AeroCon and what it offers to those wanting to get into the drone industry.

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