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CIO must go beyond IT

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As the business world changes to suit a new era of connected customers, the role of the Chief Information Officer has changed. PATRICK SHIELDS of Software AG explains that the challenge for CIOs today is to be able to extend their area of influence outside of just running IT processes.

In South Africa specifically, business decision makers are taking a serious look at the impact of digital on their organisations.

Patrick Shields, Chief Technology Officer Africa at Software AG explains that the challenge for CIOs today is to be able to extend their area of influence outside of just running IT processes and maintenance in a business, and shift their focus to incorporate the overseeing of innovation. “This doesn’t mean that the CIO’s original responsibilities are negated – making technology decisions and overseeing the administrative IT duties to ensure the effectiveness and efficiencies of IT infrastructure – the CIO now needs to also take on a leading role within the business to bring it into the digital era.” IT research and advisory,Gartner shows that this trend will continue to gain pace, indicating a fundamental shift in how businesses operate, and what part of the process a CIO role should fill.

However guiding a business into the digital era does not mean simply digitising processes. “Technology and the right tools can be used to transform a business, and even dictate the future of a company. From both a global and local perspective, there has been a fundamental shift in how businesses today need to operate to remain competitive.”

Software AG’s Digital Business Platform, the first one worldwide, allows companies to incorporate new digital capabilities, while seamlessly integrating with current operations, which will avoid disruption of the existing investment and backlog of any kind.

“This allows for the continued use of existing systems and infrastructure, which companies have already invested heavily in, as well as the capability to analyse these platforms, and strategise ways to enhance and extend them – while at the same time embracing new capabilities. Using the Digital Business Platform, these various systems are linked through a customisable integration layer which connects new and existing systems to a central point of monitoring and management.” This system is agile and operational in real time, allowing CIOs to quickly automate and manage certain business processes, implement new processes, extract valuable data insights and gain real-time operational visibility through simple, practical dashboards.

“A CIO who is able to focus on the two different development aspects of a business – both the business side and the innovation side – will be able to effectively ensure that a business is bi-modal,” says Shields. “This phrase, coined by Gartner, means that a business has both the rigor, uniformity and discipline required for efficient development and maintenance of core IT systems, as well as the quicker, more agile and adaptable capabilities required for innovation.”

Shields explains that to effectively implement these two elements at the same time, it is crucial for CIOs to organise their teams to manage these aspects in a well-balanced way. “The CIO’s organisational model will need to be designed to work for that specific company’s needs. For example, when it comes to suppliers and partners, some may settle on one or two primary vendors, while others may decide that a multi-sourcing approach – with a broader mix of vendors based on the application needs, will be the best solution. At the same time, some IT elements of a business may be run on premises, and some through the cloud. Some businesses require a CIO to oversee both elements of the business’ IT needs, while other split these roles between the CIO and, for example, a Chief Innovation Officer or Chief Digital Officer. These complexities, while challenging, also provide a lot more opportunity for a CIO to provide tangible value to the business.”

“When it comes to embracing new technologies and capabilities, in South Africa – as in any environment – you have early adopters, fast followers, and the slow to adopt,” Shields says. “These challenges are not unique to South Africa, however, challenges such as the availability of infrastructure and the required skills are major concerns. For this reason, it is critical to select vendors who are able to provide strong and capable support, as well as reliable strategic planning tools.” Shields goes on to say that the more complex the IT and business environment gets, the more businesses need suppliers to really partner with them – working together towards mutual success.

While the role of the CIO is far more complex today than ever before, the swiftly changing business environment means the role is also up for definition – an acute opportunity for CIOs to solidify their value. “It is crucial to understand how the CIO role can support the business mission – rather than just managing IT – playing a critical part in the business’ success,” he concludes.

* Patrick Shields, Chief Technology Officer Africa at Software AG.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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