Companies need to balance customer and employee engagement with service offerings that create trust and confidence, writes WARREN OLIVIER, regional manager of Veeam Southern Africa.
One of the critical concerns in this environment is addressing downtime. A competitive business cannot afford a moment’s respite; only a few minutes of inactivity, or lack of access to data or applications, can lead to huge losses.
The Veeam Data Center Availability Report 2014 shows that annual loss from downtime and data loss from legacy backup solutions can total more than R100-million annually. Businesses need to be ‘Always-On’ and accessible for their key stakeholders, as well as customers, and partners at all times. IT outages have a huge impact on both a company’s immediate profitability but also on its reputation. The loss of confidence resulting from an IT disaster threatens customers’ loyalty and retention.
Even locally, the impact of downtime on business can be significant. Unplanned IT system downtime could cost companies as much as two percent of their annual profits. And while this financial loss is significant, there is also the cost of lost data and the impact that could have on the longevity of the organisation.
Cloud and mobility have fundamentally changed how companies engage with their employees and their customers. It is clear that businesses now need to work around the clock and be ‘Always-On’. Data and applications need to be usable 24×7 irrespective of where they are accessed from. The availability of information becomes a critical success factor and systems need to be in place to make sure that it always available.
A global forecast by Cisco estimates that the number of devices and connections worldwide will reach nearly 21 billion in 2018 from 12 billion in 2013. This will significantly impact load on the network and equipment which will increase in direct proportion to the growth of information. The fact that there will be more hardware and software that offers access to data and applications at any time, mean decision-makers need to have the peace of mind that data failure or loss is taken out of the equation.
Traditionally, this challenge could only be addressed by two types of products: high-quality, high-performance, but expensive solutions that actually were only available to large companies owing to the considerable cost, or affordable programmes, but with a long cycle recovery system.
The fact that there was a gap between quality and affordable IT was formed largely due to the challenges facing the modern data centre namely the need to optimise the speed of recovery of data and applications and the confidence in achieving complete recovery of information. Today, there are solutions that provide the proper level of protection and availability of data in the data centre whilst also ensuring that the communications channel is consistently optimised.
He believes that this has signalled the bridging of an important divide in IT providing support for business and a platform for further development of technologies in this field.
Opting for an effective solution allows businesses not only to minimise the risks of loss and the inability to recover data, but also to enable all companies across industry sectors to put the theory of the Always-On business into practice.
Get your passwords in shape
New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.
Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions. Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.
Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.
I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords
Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication. However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.
As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.
But what constitutes a strong password? A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).
Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to
Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future
By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.
On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:
- A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
- Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
- Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.
With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.
Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.
In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.
As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:
AFRICA CODE WEEK
Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.
In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.
The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.
Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.
SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)
A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.
According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.
Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.