Mobile devices are essential to the survival of many businesses these days, but company owners need to balance the benefits of having new technology like LTE and the high costs of the latest devices, writes JAMES MUNN of Qualcomm.
Mobile devices are an increasingly intrinsic tool in the success of all businesses, with employees needing an efficient device that is always on and always connected. It’s a fact that rapidly evolving technology has seen device prices fall while functionality continues to increase. But, business owners subsidising mobile devices for their employees still need to balance the benefits of having the newest tech, like 4G LTE, and the high cost of the latest devices.
As there are now more affordable 4G LTE devices available in South Africa, weighing device functionality and cost is much easier. Qualcomm, global mobile technology innovators, makers of Qualcomm Snapdragon modems and processors, explains why:
Futureproof your tech
Development in 3G technology is increasingly replaced by investment in research and development around 4G LTE. This means that if you choose 3G devices for your business, you’re choosing a phone that offers the best of yesteryear. Choosing a 4G LTE phone to connect your employees means that you’re futureproofing your technology investment.
Access cloud files, faster
With more businesses moving to cloud services, employees on the move need to access documents quickly on their mobile devices, wherever they’re operating from. The modems and processors with support for 4G LTE let you download and send any documents from cloud storage at speeds that are up to ten times faster than 3G.
Choose HD – because it’s the smart thing to do
Viewing or listening to content on a 4G LTE mobile phone or tablet means that users can finally enjoy crisp, clear video and great audio quality on VoIP calls. Mobile devices with 4G LTE are turbocharged with high download speeds and superb responsiveness, so they can stream high quality video or voice that’s quick, sharp and fluid.
Mail, much faster
With mobile devices offering ever-improved email clients, your office is no longer a cubicle in an office building – it is wherever you can carry your mobile device and establish a connection via 4G LTE. Managing mail and documents on a 4G LTE device is quick and efficient.
Data calls are better, clearer
Businesses are moving away from conventional calling to ‘dialling in’ over data, with video calling adding a wonderful, personal dimension to mobile communication. In the past, people avoided data calls because of poor sound quality and erratic connections – but mobile devices with 4G LTE result in clear, audible video meetings in your favourite messaging app.
Browse the web, faster
Web pages are becoming more sophisticated, which means that they’re great to surf when there’s a fast connection – and immensely frustrating when there isn’t. With download speeds that are at least ten times those of 3G, 4G LTE mobile devices allow surfing the web in a fraction of the time, no matter the complexity of the websites visited.
Better battery life
Faster communication over LTE also means that making the most of your mobile device won’t eat into your battery life while you’re waiting for stuff to happen – which means more performance out of every battery charge. If your team is on call 24/7 utilising their mobile devices business tools, businesses could invest in devices with Qualcomm Technologies’ Quick Charge 3.0 technology, which can charge from zero to 60 percent in just 30 minutes.
4G LTE won’t break the budget
Contrary to common perception, 4G LTE devices are not only for the private premium market, with the likes of Qualcomm Snapdragon 200, 400, 600 and 800 series processors found in devices in South Africa. Prices of entry level 4G LTE devices are likely to fall even further in the coming months, putting them well within the reach of business budgets that are already stretched.
It’s easy to access 4G LTE
All major South African mobile networks have invested heavily in 4G LTE infrastructure to offer a broader 4G LTE footprint to users. This means that data services are keeping up with the ‘pull’ created by the proliferation of 4G LTE devices in the local market – and that users can rest assured that they will enjoy the full benefits of the service.
Time is money
Downloading or uploading the same amount of data over 4G LTE doesn’t cost more than doing it over 3G. However, 4G LTE delivers your data much faster.
Choosing mobile phones and tablets that use a 4G LTE connection will give businesses the digital clout they need to maximise productivity through seamless browsing, instant downloads, and even slick connections with other Wi-Fi enabled devices around them.
* James Munn, VP of Business Development, Middle East and Africa at Qualcomm International
Now IBM’s Watson joins IoT revolution in agriculture
Global expansion of the Watson Decision Platform taps into AI, weather and IoT data to boost production
IBM has announced the global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, with AI technology tailored for new crops and specific regions to help feed a growing population. For the first time, IBM is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.
By 2050, the world will need to feed two billion more people without an increase in arable land . IBM is combining power weather data – including historical, current and forecast data and weather prediction models from The Weather Company – with crop models to help improve yield forecast accuracy, generate value, and increase both farm production and profitability.
Roric Paulman, owner/operator of Paulman Farms in Southwest Nebraska, said: “As a farmer, the wild card is always weather. IBM overlays weather details with my own data and historical information to help me apply, verify, and make decisions. For example, our farm is in a highly restricted water basin, so the ability to better anticipate rain not only saves me money but also helps me save precious natural resources.”
New crop models include corn, wheat, soy, cotton, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and potato, with more coming soon. These models will now be available in the Africa, U.S. Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, as well as new markets across Europe and Australia.
Kristen Lauria, general manager of Watson Media and Weather Solutions at IBM, said: “These days farmers don’t just farm food, they also cultivate data – from drones flying over fields to smart irrigation systems, and IoT sensors affixed to combines, seeders, sprayers and other equipment. Most of the time, this data is left on the vine — never analysed or used to derive insights. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture aims to change that by offering tools and solutions to help growers make more informed decisions about their crops.”
The average farm generates an estimated 500,000 data points per day, which will grow to 4 million data points by 2036 . Applying AI and analysis to aggregated field, machine and environmental data can help improve shared insights between growers and enterprises across the agriculture ecosystem. With a better view of the fields, growers can see what’s working on certain farms and share best practices with other farmers. The platform assesses data in an electronic field record to identify and communicate crop management patterns and insights. Enterprise businesses such as food companies, grain processors, or produce distributors can then work with farmers to leverage those insights. It helps track crop yield as well as the environmental, weather and plant biologic conditions that go into a good or bad yield, such as irrigation management, pest and disease risk analysis and cohort analysis for comparing similar subsets of fields.
The result isn’t just more productive farmers. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture could help a livestock company eliminate a certain mold or fungus from feed supply grains or help identify the best crop irrigation practices for farmers to use in drought-stricken areas like California. It could help deliver the perfect French fry for a fast food chain that needs longer – not fatter – potatoes from its network of growers. Or it could help a beer distributor produce a more affordable premium beer by growing higher quality barley that meets the standard required to become malting barley.
Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is built on IBM PAIRS Geoscope from IBM Research, which quickly processes massive, complex geospatial and time-based datasets collected by satellites, drones, aerial flights, millions of IoT sensors and weather models. It crunches large, complex data and creates insights quickly and easily so farmers and food companies can focus on growing crops for global communities.
IBM and The Weather Company help the agriculture industry find value in weather insights. IBM Research collaborates with start up Hello Tractor to integrate The Weather Company data, remote sensing data (e.g., satellite), and IoT data from tractors. IBM also works with crop nutrition leader Yara to include hyperlocal weather forecasts in its digital platform for real-time recommendations, tailored to specific fields or crops. IBM acquired The Weather Company in 2016 and has since been helping clients better understand and mitigate the cost of weather on their businesses. The global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is the latest innovation in IBM’s efforts to make weather a more predictable business consideration. Also just announced, Weather Signals is a new AI-based tool that merges The Weather Company data with a company’s own operations data to reveal how minor fluctuations in weather affects business.
The combination of rich weather forecast data from The Weather Company and IBM’s AI and Cloud technologies is designed to provide a unique capability, which is being leveraged by agriculture, energy and utility companies, airlines, retailers and many others to make informed business decisions.
 The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”
 Business Insider Intelligence, 2016 report: https://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-smart-agriculture-2016-10
What if Amazon used AI to take on factories?
By ANTONY BOURNE, IFS Global Industry Director for Manufacturing
Amazon recently announced record profits of $3.03bn, breaking its own record for the third consecutive time. However, Amazon appears to be at a crossroads as to where it heads next. Beyond pouring additional energy into Amazon Prime, many have wondered whether the company may decide to enter an entirely new sector such as manufacturing to drive future growth, after all, it seems a logical step for the company with its finger in so many pies.
At this point, it is unclear whether Amazon would truly ‘get its hands dirty’ by manufacturing its own products on a grand scale. But what if it did? It’s worth exploring this reality. What if Amazon did decide to move into manufacturing, a sector dominated by traditional firms and one that is yet to see an explosive tech rival enter? After all, many similarly positioned tech giants have stuck to providing data analytics services or consulting to these firms rather than genuinely engaging with and analysing manufacturing techniques directly.
If Amazon did factories
If Amazon decided to take a step into manufacturing, it is likely that they could use the Echo range as a template of what AI can achieve. In recent years,Amazon gained expertise on the way to designing its Echo home speaker range that features Alexa, an artificial intelligence and IoT-based digital assistant.Amazon could replicate a similar form with the deployment of AI and Industrial IoT (IIoT) to create an autonomously-run smart manufacturing plant. Such a plant could feature IIoT sensors to enable the machinery to be run remotely and self-aware; managing external inputs and outputs such as supply deliveries and the shipping of finished goods. Just-in-time logistics would remove the need for warehousing while other machines could be placed in charge of maintenance using AI and remote access. Through this, Amazon could radically reduce the need for human labour and interaction in manufacturing as the use of AI, IIoT and data analytics will leave only the human role for monitoring and strategic evaluation. Amazon has been using autonomous robots in their logistics and distribution centres since 2017. As demonstrated with the Echo range, this technology is available now, with the full capabilities of Blockchain and 5G soon to be realised and allowing an exponentially-increased amount of data to be received, processed and communicated.
Manufacturing with knowledge
Theorising what Amazon’s manufacturing debut would look like provides a stark learning opportunity for traditional manufacturers. After all, wheneverAmazon has entered the fray in other traditional industries such as retail and logistics, the sector has never remained the same again. The key takeaway for manufacturers is that now is the time to start leveraging the sort of technologies and approaches to data management that Amazon is already doing in its current operations. When thinking about how to implement AI and new technologies in existing environments, specific end-business goals and targets must be considered, or else the end result will fail to live up to the most optimistic of expectations. As with any target and goal, the more targeted your objectives, the more competitive and transformative your results. Once specific targets and deliverables have been considered, the resources and methods of implementation must also be considered. As Amazon did with early automation of their distribution and logistics centres, manufacturers need to implement change gradually and be focused on achieving small and incremental results that will generate wider momentum and the appetite to lead more expansive changes.
In implementing newer technologies, manufacturers need to bear in mind two fundamental aspects of implementation: software and hardware solutions. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which is increasingly bolstered by AI, will enable manufacturers to leverage the data from connected IoT devices, sensors, and automated systems from the factory floor and the wider business. ERP software will be the key to making strategic decisions and executing routine operational tasks more efficiently. This will allow manufacturers to keep on top of trends and deliver real-time forecasting and spot any potential problems before they impact the wider business.
As for the hardware, stock management drones and sensor-embedded hardware will be the eyes through which manufacturers view the impact emerging technologies bring to their operations. Unlike manual stock audits and counting, drones with AI capabilities can monitor stock intelligently around production so that operations are not disrupted or halted. Manufacturers will be able to see what is working, what is going wrong, and where there is potential for further improvement and change.
Knowledge for manufacturing
For many traditional manufacturers, they may see Amazon as a looming threat, and smart-factory technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a far off utopia. However, 2019 presents a perfect opportunity for manufacturers themselves to really determine how the tech giants and emerging technologies will affect the industry. Technologies such as AI and IoT are available today; and the full benefits of these technologies will only deepen as they are implemented alongside the maturing of other emerging technologies such as 5G and Blockchain in the next 3-5 years. Manufacturers need to analyse the needs which these technologies can address and produce a proper plan on how to gradually implement these technologies to address specific targets and deliverables. AI-based software and hardware solutions will fundamentally revolutionise manufacturing, yet for 2019, manufacturers just have to be willing to make the first steps in modernisation.