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AppDate: From Sports to Spotify, apps get serious

Roundup of new apps by SEAN BACHER include SAP Sports One, Spotify for the Apple Watch, FNB nav» Home, Opera with cookie dialog popup blocker and Nando’s ordering app.

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SAP Sports One

SAP Sports One, a sports-specific cloud solution powered by SAP’s HANA platform, provides teams and administrators with a single platform for the management of teams and players by delivering analytical insights for performance optimisation. The solution was born out of a partnership between SAP and the German football team. Following the team’s victory at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, SAP was heralded as the team’s “12th Man” by the Wall Street Journal and credited with a significant contribution to the famous win.

Deployed in the cloud, SAP Sports One helps clubs and organisations digitalise sports performance management by coordinating all administrative, training and team management, scouting and medical processes. In short, it’s an app for serious sports professionals.

Platform: Most devices with an Internet connection and up-to-date Internet browser
Expect to pay: Price is available on application
Stockists: SAP Sports One is not available for download from any app store as it is a specialised application.
Those interested can get more information here: https://www.sap.com/africa/products/sports-one.html

 

Spotify for the Apple Watch

Spotify has recently brought its mobile streaming music app to the Apple Watch, allowing users to listen to music on the move without having to access their smartphone. With this new app, users can enjoy a better music experience with better control. The added ability to connect the watch to external speakers or devices using the Spotify Connect feature essentially turns the watch into a mobile DJ platform. There is also the option to listen to music and podcasts offline for when connectivity is limited or non-existent.

The app makes full use of the watch’s screen, with a clean and clutter free layout. The volume, skip, rewind and pause controls are prominently displayed, making it easy to take control of the music without getting too distracted.

Platform: An Apple iPhone connected to an Apple Watch
Expect to pay: A free download, but Spotify subscriptions need to be paid to stream and download music.
Stockists: Visit the Apple App Store.

 

FNB nav» Home
FNB’s nav» Home functionality enables FNB customers to list and sell their homes privately and securely to buyers who qualify for a home loan, while saving costs associated with the process.

The solution allows sellers and buyers to engage, arrange to view a listed property and negotiate the price via secure chat on the FNB Banking App. Sellers and buyers can also  disclose personal contact information only when they are comfortable to do so.

To date, nav» Home has over 1 million visitors and has paid out R4.7 billion worth of home loans.

Platform: Android and iOS
Expect to pay: A free service, but users must bank with FNB
Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Opera for Android with cookie dialog popup blocker
Opera for Android, with a cookie dialog blocker built in, means that one’s mobile browsing experience will become cleaner and neater, allowing one to focus on content while still being confident of online safety and privacy.

The cookie dialog blocker can be switched on in the browser settings. To configure the feature, go to Settings, tap on “Ad blocking”, and you find the switch to toggle it on or off.

When enabled by the user, the cookie alert blocker will hide dialogues but will not block websites from setting any cookies. To control cookie behaviour, the Opera browser has a dedicated setting that allows users to choose between accepting all or no cookies,  or blocking any third party cookies.

Opera for Android now also has home screen short cuts. Users with an Android 7.1 operating system or later can do a long tap on the “O” logo on the phone’s home screen and navigate through the new home screen shortcuts. These shortcuts allow a user to start a new search, scan a QR code or open a new private tab. In addition, one can now long tap on the “+” new tab button, and open a shortcut to a website on the device’s home screen.

Platform: Android 7.1 or higher
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store

 

Nando’s ordering app
The Nando’s ordering app allows users to place orders via voice or text. Its simple design means that users can order something like a hot chicken with fries and a coke without having to scroll through endless individual menu items and tick what they want.

All they have to do is place their order in simple English. An artificial intelligence engine running in the back-end makes sense of this, adds all the items to the basket and sends them directly to the checkout section, where payment is made. The AI engine also remembers a user’s previous ordering preferences and so brings those up as soon as the app is opened.

In addition, users can place their order for a specific time in the future, meaning they don’t have to scramble around placing an order when their stomachs start grumbling. Deliveries can be tracked in real time.

Platform: Android, iOS or directly through the Nando’s website
Expect to pay: A free download
Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

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How to rob a bank in the 21st century

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In the early 1980s, South Africans were gripped by tales of the most infamous bank robbery gangs the country had ever known: The Stander Gang. The gang would boldly walk into banks, brandishing weapons, demand cash and simply disappear. These days, a criminal doesn’t even have to be in the same country as the bank he or she intends to rob. Cyber criminals are quite capable of emptying bank accounts without even stepping out of their own homes.

As we become more and more aware of cybersecurity and the breaches that can occur, we’ve become more vigilant. Criminals, however, are still going to follow the money and even though security may be beefed up in many organisations, hackers are going to go for the weakest links. This makes it quintessential for consumers and enterprises to stay one step ahead of the game.

“Not only do these cyber bank criminals get away with the cash, they also end up damaging an organisation’s reputation and the integrity of its infrastructure,” says Indi Siriniwasa, Vice President of Trend Micro, Sub-Saharan Africa. “And sometimes, these breaches mean they get away with more than just cash – they can make off with data and personal information as well.”

Because the cyber criminals operate outside bricks and mortar, going for the cash register or robbing the customers is not where their misdeeds end. Bank employees – from the tellers to the CEO – are all fair game.

But how do they do it? Taking money out of an account is not the only way to steal money. Cyber criminals can zero in on the bank’s infrastructure, or hack into payment systems and even payment documents. Part of a successful operation for them may also include hacking into telecommunications to gain access to one-time pins or mobile networks.

“It’s not just about hacking,” says Siriniwasa.. “It’s also about the hackers trying to get an ‘inside man’ in the bank who could help them or even using a person’s personal details to get a new SIM so that they can have access to OTPs. Of course, they also use the tried and tested method of phishing which continues to be exceptionally effective – despite the education in the market to thwart it.”

The amounts of malware and available attacks to gain access to bank funds is strikingly vast and varies from using web injection script, social engineering and even targeting internal networks as well as points of sale systems. If there is an internet connection and a system you can be assured that there is a cybercriminal trying to crack it. The impact on the bank itself is also massive, with reputations left in tatters and customers moving their business elsewhere.

“We see that cyber criminals use multi-faceted attacks,” says Siriniwasa. “This means that we need to come at security from multiple angles as well. Every single layer of an organisation’s online perimeter need to be secured. Threat isolation is exceptionally important and having security with intrusion protection is vital. Again, vigilance on the part of staff and customers also goes a long way to preventing attacks. These criminals might not carry guns like Andre Stander and his gang, but they are just as dangerous – in fact – probably more so.”

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Beaten by big data? AI is the answer

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by ZAKES SOCIKWA, cloud big data and analytics lead at Oracle

In 2019, it’sestimated we’ll generate more data than we did in the previous 5,000 years. Data is fast becoming the most valuable asset of any modern organisation, and while most have access to their internal data, they continue to experience challenges in deriving maximum value through being able to effectively monetise the information that they hold.

The foundation of any analytics or Business Intelligence (BI) reporting capability is an efficient data collection system that ensures events/transactions are properly recorded, captured, processed and stored. Some of this information on its own might not provide any valuable insights, but if it is analysed together with other sources might yield interesting patterns.

Big data opens up possibilities of enhancing internal sources with unstructured data and information from Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Furthermore, as we move to a digital age, more businesses are implementing customer experience solutions and there is a growing need for them to improve their service and personalise customer engagements.

The digital behaviour of customers, such as social media postings and the networks or platforms they engage with, further provides valuable information for data collection. Information gathering methods are being expanded to accommodate all types and formats of data, including images, videos, and more.

In the past, BI and Data Mining were left to highly technical and analytical individuals, but the introduction of data visualisation tools is democratising the analytics world. However, business users and report consumers often do not have a clear understanding of what they need or what is possible.

AI now embedded into day to day applications

To this end, artificial intelligence (AI) is finishing what business intelligence started. By gathering, contextualising, understanding, and acting on huge quantities of data, AI has given rise to a new breed of applications – one that’s continuously improving and adapting to the conditions around it. The more data that is available for the analysis, the better is the quality of the outcomes or predictions.

In addition, AI changes the productivity equation for many jobs by automating activities and adapting current jobs to solve more complex and time-consuming problems, from recruiters being able to source better candidates faster to financial analysts eliminating manual error-prone reporting.

This type of automation will not replace all jobs but will invent new ones. This enables businesses to reduce the time to complete tasks and the costs of maintenance, and will lead to the creation of higher-value jobs and new engagement models. Oracle predicts that by 2025, the productivity gains delivered by AI, emerging technologies, and augmented experiences could double compared to today’s operations.

According to the IDC, worldwide revenues for big data and business analytics (BDA) solutions was expected to total $166 billion in 2018, and forecast to reach $260 billion in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate of 11.9% over the 2017-2022 forecast period. It adds that two of the fastest growing BDA technology categories will be Cognitive/AI Software Platforms (36.5% CAGR) and Non-relational Analytic Data Stores (30.3% CAGR)¹.

Informed decisions, now and in the future

As new layers of technology are introduced and more complex data sources are added to the ecosystem, the need for a tightly integrated technology stack becomes a challenge. It is advisable to choose your technology components very carefully and always have the end state in mind.

More development on emerging technologies such as blockchain, AI, IoT, virtual reality and others will probably be available on cloud first before coming on premise. For those organisations that are adopting public cloud, there are opportunities to consume the benefits of public cloud and drive down costs of doing business.

While the introduction of public cloud is posing a challenge on data sovereignty and other regulations, technology providers such as Oracle have developed a ‘Cloud at Customer’ model that provides the full benefits of public cloud – but located on premise, within an organisation’s own data centre.

The best organisations will innovate and optimise faster than the rest. Best decisions must be made around choice of technology, business processes, integration and architectures that are fit for business. In the information marketplace, speed and informed decision making will be key differentiators amongst competitors.

¹ IDC Press Release, Revenues for Big Data and Business Analytics Solutions Forecast to Reach $260 Billion in 2022, Led by the Banking and Manufacturing Industries, According to IDC, 15 August 2018

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