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Business beyond the cloud

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South African companies moving to cloud-based infrastructure need to understand that the cloud is not the end of the journey – it is just the first step in finding new ways of doing business, says Interactive Intelligence.
By ANDRE LE ROUX, Interactive Intelligence Managing Director, Africa Region.

Cloud Adoption

After a slow start in South Africa, cloud adoption is picking up fast, following global trends in which spend on cloud services is rapidly doubling and even tripling. According to IDC, spend on public cloud services will grow from around $70 billion in 2015 to over $141 billion in 2019, with Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service growth outpacing Software as a Service growth. IDC predicts cloud IT infrastructure spending will pass the $53 billion mark by 2019, accounting for 46 percent of total expenditures on enterprise IT infrastructure.

While this growth is impressive, it shouldn’t be surprising. Moving to the cloud dramatically simplifies infrastructure, removes impediments to change, improves security, and allows for the collection of massive amounts of data for analysis. Most importantly, however, it facilitates experimentation, rapid change, and easier adoption of new technologies.

So, while the cloud offers inherent benefits, it’s also just the first step on the road to the new order of business. This is the point where the real business revolution begins.

Multimodal Interactions

Beyond the cloud, businesses must meet customer demand for multimodel engagement, where they can use multiple channels of communication within a single interaction seamlessly. An example is escalating from a Web chat to a video session with co-browsing.

Collaboration Technologies

Increasingly, customer engagement and collaboration technologies will merge. The above example illustrates this capability. Another is the ability of agents, along with business users, to be members of subject-specific chat rooms. Being able to quickly tap into a resource such as this would enable agents to far more effectively address customer issues in real-time.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is another area that’s transforming business. Imagine agents and customers walking together through virtual worlds to exchange information, demonstrate complex concepts, or showcase goods and services. As part of a multimodal interaction, the customer experience becomes deeply personalized and effortless.

Artificial Intelligence

We are already moving beyond data analytics to artificial intelligence (AI). AI automatically and proactively identifies problems and recognizes trends so supervisors don’t have to search through enormous data sets. This knowledge will drive disruptive change in products, services and customer engagement.

Conclusion

The cloud presents a wealth of as-yet untapped opportunities to completely disrupt business and society at large. The question now isn’t whether or not to embrace change. For businesses that want to succeed, the only question left is how fast can you do it?

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Kenya tool to help companies prepare for emergencies

After its team members survived last week’s Nairobi terror attack, Ushahidi decided to release a new preparedness tool for free, writes its CEO, NAT MANNING

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On Tuesday I woke up a bit before 7am in Berkeley, California where I live. I made some coffee and went over to my computer to start my work day. I checked my Slack and the news and quickly found out that there was an ongoing terrorist attack at 14 Riverside Complex in Nairobi, Kenya. The Ushahidi office is in Nairobi and about a third of our team is based there (the rest of us are spread across 10 other countries).

As I read the news, my heart plummeted, and I immediately asked the question, “is everyone on my team okay?”

Five years ago Al-Shabaab committed a similar attack at the Westgate Mall. We spent several tense hours figuring out if any of our team had been in the mall, and verifying that everyone was safe. We found out that one of our team member’s family was caught up in the attack. Luckily they made it out.

At Ushahidi we make software for crisis response, including tools to map disasters and election violence, and yet we felt helpless in the face of this attack. In the days following the Westgate attack, our team huddled and thought about what we could build that would help our team — and other teams — if we found ourselves in a similar situation to this attack again. We identified that when we first learned of the attack, nearly everyone at Ushahidi had spent that first precious few hours trying to answer the basic questions, “Is everyone okay?”, and if not, “Who needs help?” 

People had ad-hoc used multiple channels such as WhatsApp, called, emailed, or texted. We had done this for each person at Ushahidi (their job), in our families, and important people in our community. Our process was unorganised, inefficient, repetitive, and frustrating.

And from this problem we created TenFour, a check in tool that makes it easier for teams to reach one another during times of crisis. It is a simple application that lets people send a message to their team via SMS, Slack, Voice, email, and in-app, and get a response. It also works for educational institutions, companies with distributed staff, as well as part of neighbourhood networks like neighbourhood watches.

This week when I woke up to the news of the attack at Riverside, I immediately opened up the TenFour app.

Click here to read how Nat quickly confirmed the safety of his team.

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Kia multi-collision airbags

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The world’s first multi-collision airbag system has been unveiled by Hyundai Motor Group subsidiary KIA Motors, with the aim of improving airbag performance in multi-collision accidents.

Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as other vehicles, trees, or electrical posts, which occur in three out of every 10 accidents. Current airbag systems do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy. 

However, the multi-collision airbag system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact, by calibrating the status of the vehicle and the occupants.

The new technology detects occupants’ positions in the cabin following an initial collision. When occupants are forced into unusual positions, the effectiveness of existing safety technology may be compromised. Multi-collision airbag systems are designed to deploy even faster when initial safety systems may not be effective, providing additional safety when drivers and passengers are most vulnerable. By recalibrating the collision intensity required for deployment, the airbag system responds more promptly during the secondary impact, thereby improving the safety of multi-collision vehicle occupants.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of the Hyundai Motor Group’s Chassis Technology Centre. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

According to statistics by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in USA, about 30% of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. The leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8%), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5%), highway median strip collisions (8.0%), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0%). 

These multi-collision scenarios were analysed in multilateral ways to improve airbag performance and precision in secondary collisions. Once commercialised, the system will be implemented in future new KIA vehicles. 

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