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10 ways 4G helps a business succeed

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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

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Smart home arrives in SA

The smart home is no longer a distant vision confined to advanced economies, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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The smart home is a wonderful vision for controlling every aspect of one’s living environment via remote control, apps and sensors. But, because it is both complex and expensive, there has been little appetite for it in South Africa.

The two main routes for smart home installation are both fraught with peril – financial and technical.

The first is to call on a specialist installation company. Surprisingly, there are many in South Africa. Google “smart home” +”South Africa”, and thousands of results appear. The problem is that, because the industry is so new, few have built up solid track records and reputations. Costs vary wildly, few standards exist, and the cost of after-sales service will turn out to be more important than the upfront price.

The second route is to assemble the components of a smart home, and attempt self-installation. For the non-technical, this is often a non-starter. Not only does one need a fairly good knowledge of Wi-Fi configuration, but also a broad understanding of the Internet of Things (IoT) – the ability for devices to sense their environment, connect to each other, and share information.

The good news, though, is that it is getting easier and more cost effective all the time.

My first efforts in this direction started a few years ago with finding smart plugs on Amazon.com. These are power adaptors that turn regular sockets into “smart sockets” by adding Wi-Fi and an on-off switch, among other. A smart lightbulb was sourced from Gearbest in China. At the time, these were the cheapest and most basic elements for a starter smart home environment.

Via a smartphone app, the light could be switched on from the other side of the world. It sounds trivial and silly, but on such basic functions the future is slowly built.

Fast forward a year or two, and these components are available from hundreds of outlets, they have plummeted in cost, and the range of options is bewildering. That, of course, makes the quest even more bewildering. Who can be trusted for quality, fulfilment and after-sales support? Which products will be obsolete in the next year or two as technology advances even more rapidly?

These are some of the challenges that a leading South African technology distributor, Syntech, decided to address in adding smart home products to its portfolio. It selected LifeSmart, a global brand with proven expertise in both IoT and smart home products.

Equally significantly, LifeSmart combines IoT with artificial intelligence and machine learning, meaning that the devices “learn” the best ways of connecting, sharing and integrating new elements. Because they all fall under the same brand, they are designed to integrate with the LifeSmart app, which is available for Android and iOS phones, as well as Android TV.

Click here to read about how LifeSmart makes installing smart home devices easier.

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Matrics must prepare for AI

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students writing a test

By Vian Chinner, CEO and founder of Xineoh.

Many in the matric class of 2018 are currently weighing up their options for the future. With the country’s high unemployment rate casting a shadow on their opportunities, these future jobseekers have been encouraged to look into which skills are required by the market, tailoring their occupational training to align with demand and thereby improving their chances of finding a job, writes Vian Chinner – a South African innovator, data scientist and CEO of the machine learning company specialising in consumer behaviour prediction, Xineoh.

With rapid innovation and development in the field of artificial intelligence (AI), all careers – including high-demand professions like engineers, teachers and electricians – will look significantly different in the years to come.

Notably, the third wave of internet connectivity, whereby our physical world begins to merge with that of the internet, is upon us. This is evident in how widespread AI is being implemented across industries as well as in our homes with the use of automation solutions and bots like Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana. So much data is collected from the physical world every day and AI makes sense of it all.

Not only do new industries related to technology like AI open new career paths, such as those specialising in data science, but it will also modify those which already exist. 

So, what should matriculants be considering when deciding what route to take?

For highly academic individuals, who are exceptionally strong in mathematics, data science is definitely the way to go. There is, and will continue to be, massive demand internationally as well as locally, with Element-AI noting that there are only between 0 and 100 data scientists in South Africa, with the true number being closer to 0.

In terms of getting a foot in the door to become a successful data scientist, practical experience, working with an AI-focused business, is essential. Students should consider getting an internship while they are studying or going straight into an internship, learning on the job and taking specialist online courses from institutions like Stanford University and MIT as they go.

This career path is, however, limited to the highly academic and mathematically gifted, but the technology is inevitably going to overlap with all other professions and so, those who are looking to begin their careers should take note of which skills will be in demand in future, versus which will be made redundant by AI.

In the next few years, technicians who are able to install and maintain new technology will be highly sought after. On the other hand, many entry level jobs will likely be taken care of by AI – from the slicing and dicing currently done by assistant chefs, to the laying of bricks by labourers in the building sector.

As a rule, students should be looking at the skills required for the job one step up from an entry level position and working towards developing these. Those training to be journalists, for instance, should work towards the skill level of an editor and a bookkeeping trainee, the role of financial consultant.

This also means that new workforce entrants should be prepared to walk into a more demanding role, with more responsibility, than perhaps previously anticipated and that the country’s education and training system should adapt to the shift in required skills.

The matric classes of 2018 have completed their schooling in the information age and we should be equipping them, and future generations, for the future market – AI is central to this.

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