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Blockchain breaks free from cryptocurrency

By BEVAN LOCK, technical sales lead at Data Center Group

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South Africa. Johannesburg. The first half of 2019 has flown by, and it’s time to reflect and consider what lies ahead. The technology space shows no signs of slowing down, so don’t miss out on this essential overview of the latest tech trends creating a stir.

  1. From the cloud to the edge

Many businesses are finding that the workloads tied to their Internet of Things and 5G deployments aren’t always right for the cloud. As devices become smarter and create increasing volumes of data, edge computing enables companies to quickly and securely process, store and analyse it.

Servers built specifically to support high-performance processing at the edge are keeping pace with this need. One such example is Lenovo’s ThinkSystem SE350 compact server, which has zero-touch setup and is ready to go anywhere it’s needed – be it on the rack, wall, or shelf.

  1. Blockchain comes into its own

Stepping out of the shade of its cryptocurrency roots, blockchain is becoming a key tool for enterprises to drive digital transformation plans. Some of the biggest hurdles to bringing new technology into a business are security concerns. Blockchain is reducing those risks for the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Its decentralised nature ensures the billions of devices being deployed on the IoT are done so safely and securely.

We’re only just now scratching the surface of blockchain’s enterprise potential, so it’s key to understand how the technology works, how it’s evolving and the possibilities it affords. For example, at Lenovo we’re using blockchain to optimise our supply chain, which is helping us improve visibility and efficiency, drive revenue growth and transform our supply chain into a profit centre.

  1. Think flexibly

Traditionally, technology services charge businesses for a whole host of things that the company might use at some point, and they charge up front. There is now a move to a “pay-as-you-use” model.

The consumer service industry has already caught on to this. We’re seeing a boom in ‘the subscription economy,’ where consumers pay for services – from music and fashion to food and cars – based on their monthly wants and needs without being tied into expensive, fixed contracts.

  1. Cooling down data centres

Data centres rely on water-cooling to run more efficiently, maximise performance and keep a lid on carbon emissions – which, of course, is not only good for business, but good for the planet.

Liquid cooling will become even more important as businesses embark on Exascale projects – capable of one billion calculations per second – in the next few years. Liquid cooling will be crucial to achieving this level of performance, enabling more powerful CPUs and accelerating networking and storage.

  1. New opportunities with AI

Things are possible now that were never possible before, and thanks to AI, business is facing a revolution. Scientific innovations have evolved beyond our imaginations, with cars now driving themselves, advanced image recognition enabling more accurate identification of diseases, and machines deciding the most efficient crop rotations for farmers.

As AI algorithms take on core roles across all industries, from banking to healthcare and retail to manufacturing, the major events in human life – such as buying a home, delivering a baby or finding a romantic partner – will be increasingly orchestrated by intelligent software. Lenovo’s AI innovation centres help businesses to experiment and conduct proof of concepts with ready-to-use hardware, software tools and AI skills.

  1. City migration

People are flocking to live in urban areas. Over half of the world’s population (55%) already live in cities and this figure is expected to increase to more than two-thirds in the next 30 years, according to UN numbers.

As populations rise, so too does pressure on city-livers and city infrastructure. In turn, city leaders are turning to new technologies like smart sensors, 5G, edge computing and AI to help citizens enjoy an easier, smoother and better-quality life. The work we’re doing with Pivot 3 is a great example of enabling the next generation of smart city security, helping high-population cities to grow through machine learning, AI and advanced edge device management to better protect their citizens.

Don’t get left behind by new technology

We hope this article has provided plenty of inspiration for the latest technology trends that your business could deploy. Emerging technologies and systems like AI, Blockchain and the Internet of Things offer a plethora of exciting business opportunities. It just takes a considered approach and a willingness to dive right in to experience the full possibilities.

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Tech promotes connections across groups in emerging markets

Digital technology users say they more regularly interact with people from diverse backgrounds

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Smartphone users – especially those who use social media – say they are more regularly exposed to people who have different backgrounds. They are also more connected with friends they don’t see in person, a Pew Research Center survey of adults in 11 emerging economies finds.

South Africa, included in the study, has among the most consistent levels of connection across age groups and education levels and in terms of cross-cultural connections. This suggests both that smartphones have had a greater democratisation impact in South Africa, but also that the country is more geared to diversity than most others. Of 11 countries surveyed, it has the second-lowest spread between those using smartphones and those not using them in terms of exposure to other religious groups.

Across every country surveyed, those who use smartphones are more likely than those who use less sophisticated phones or no phones at all to regularly interact with people from different religious groups. In most countries, people with smartphones also tend to be more likely to interact regularly with people from different political parties, income levels and racial or ethnic backgrounds. 

The Center’s new report is the third in a series exploring digital connectivity among populations in emerging economies based on nationally representative surveys of adults in Colombia, India, Jordan, Kenya, Lebanon, Mexico, the Philippines, Tunisia, South Africa, Venezuela and Vietnam. Earlier reports examined attitudes toward misinformation and mobile technology’s social impact

The survey finds that smartphone and social media use are intertwined: A median of 91% of smartphone users in these countries also use social media or messaging apps, while a median of 81% of social media users say they own or share a smartphone. And, as with smartphone users, social media and messaging app users stand apart from non-users in how often they interact with people who are different from them. For example, 52% of Mexican social media users say they regularly interact with people of a different income level, compared with 28% of non-users. 

These results do not show with certainty that smartphones or social media are the cause of people feeling like they have more diverse networks. For example, those who have resources to buy and maintain a smartphone are likely to differ in many key ways from those who don’t, and it could be that some combination of those differences drives this phenomenon. Still, statistical modelling indicates that smartphone and social media use are independent predictors of greater social network diversity when other factors such as age, education and sex are held constant. 

Other key findings in the report include: 

  • Mobile phones and social media are broadening people’s social networks. More than half in most countries say they see in person only about half or fewer of the people they call or text. Mobile phones are also allowing many to stay in touch with people who live far away: A median of 93% of mobile phone users across the 11 countries surveyed say their phones have mostly helped them keep in touch with those who are far-flung. When it comes to social media, large shares report relationships with “friends” online who are distinct from those they see in person. A median of 46% of Facebook users across the 11 countries report seeing few or none of their Facebook friends in person regularly, compared with a median of 31% of Facebook users who often see most or all of their Facebook friends in person. 
  • Social activities and information seeking on subjects like health and education top the list of mobile activities. The survey asked mobile phone users about 10 different activities they might do on their mobile phones – activities that are social, information-seeking or commercial in nature. Among the most commonly reported activities are casual, social activities. For example, a median of 82% of mobile phone users in the 11 countries surveyed say they used their phone over the past year to send text messages and a median of 69% of users say they took pictures or videos. Many mobile phone users are also using their phones to find new information. For example, a median of 61% of mobile phone users say they used their phones over the past year to look up information about health and medicine for themselves or their families. This is more than the proportion that reports using their phones to get news and information about politics (median of 47%) or to look up information about government services (37%). Additionally, around half or more of mobile phone users in nearly all countries report having used their phones over the past 12 months to learn something important for work or school. 
  • Digital divides emerge in the new mobile-social environment. People with smartphones and social media – as well as younger people, those with higher levels of education, and men – are in some ways reaping more benefits than others, potentially contributing to digital divides. 
    • People with smartphones are much more likely to engage in activities on their phones than people with less sophisticated devices – even if the activity itself is quite simple. For example, people with smartphones are more likely than those with feature or basic phones to send text messages in each of the 11 countries surveyed, even though the activity is technically feasible from all mobile phones. Those who have smartphones are also much more likely to look up information for their households, including about health and government services. 
    •  There are also major differences in mobile usage by age and education level in how their devices are – or are not – broadening their horizons. Younger people are more likely to use their phones for nearly all activities asked about, whether those activities are social, information-seeking or commercial. Phone users with higher levels of education are also more likely to do most activities on their phones and to interact with those who are different from them regularly than those with lower levels of education. 
    •  Gender, too, plays a role in what people do with their devices and how they are exposed to different people and information. Men are more likely than women to say they encounter people who are different from them, whether in terms of race, politics, religion or income. And men tend to be more likely to look up information about government services and to obtain political news and information. 

These findings are drawn from a Pew Research Center survey conducted among 28,122 adults in 11 countries from Sept. 7 to Dec. 7, 2018. In addition to the survey, the Center conducted focus groups with participants in Kenya, Mexico, the Philippines and Tunisia in March 2018, and their comments are included throughout the report. 

Read the full report at https://www.pewinternet.org/2019/08/22/in-emerging-economies-smartphone-and-social-media-users-have-broader-social-networks.

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Nokia to be first with Android 10

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Nokia is likely to be the first smartphone brand to roll out Android 10, after its manufacturer, HMD Global, announced that the Android 10 software upgrade would start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Previously named Android Q, it was given the number after Google announced it was ditching sweet and dessert names due to confusion in different languages. Android 10 is due for release at the end of the year.

Juho Sarvikas, chief product officer of HMD Global said: “With a proven track record in delivering software updates fast, Nokia smartphones were the first whole portfolio to benefit from a 2-letter upgrade from Android Nougat to Android Oreo and then Android Pie. We were the fastest manufacturer to upgrade from Android Oreo to Android Pie across the range. 

“With today’s roll out plan we look set to do it even faster for Android Pie to Android 10 upgrades. We are the only manufacturer 100% committed to having the latest Android across the entire portfolio.”

HMD Global has given a guarantee that Nokia smartphone owners benefit from two years of OS upgrades and 3 years of security updates.

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