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Consumer buy-in essential as man meets machine

Rather than purely boasting about the possibility and opportunity that the Fourth Industrial Revolution can offer our organisations, industries and organisations must do their bit to educate the public about the ways in which these technologies will benefit the end consumer.

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It’s no secret that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has officially begun. The era of intersection between people and machines is among us, with more industries embracing the new technologies that are available.

Historically, the term ‘revolution’ was often associated with hardships, displacement and economic dissonance. The Fourth Industrial Revolution, on the other hand, is often discussed in an energised, excited – and dare I say, blasé – type of attitude, particularly among ICT professionals.

Of course, we in the ICT industry understand the benefits that will come with the digital era, however I find myself wondering whether the consequences of this somewhat peaceful revolution might mirror those of revolutions past if we do not act quickly.

Concern has already begun to spread among the public, with many fearing for their jobs should the impact of technology increase within organisations around the country. As industry, we know the specifics of this particular issue, however we all have a part to play in ensuring optimal understanding around the digital revolution, or risk ushering the same hardships suffered during revolutions past.

Changing the message

We are privileged to not only watch a worldwide revolution take place before us, but to contribute towards it. The work we do in the ICT industry is changing the ways South Africans live and do business, and the impact and implications of the digital revolution are becoming more evident with each passing hour.

New technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and Big Data represent some of the most exciting opportunities for our market, but because of their lack of understanding, it can easily cause uncertainty in the public. Rather than purely boasting about the possibility and opportunity these technologies offer our organisations, industries and organisations must do their bit to educate the public about the ways in which these technologies will benefit the end consumer.

From a Vodacom perspective, we are investing a lot of money in this space to offer increased service to our customers. If you look at our call centres, for instance, we are a business with over 39 million customers, and a lot of time is taken by customers trying to identify themselves when they call us. We need predictive analytics to know why they are calling us, and be able to solve their problems before they even call – meaning our services improve and our customers are ultimately happier. This is the kind of message that must be exerted in order for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to remain peaceful – that not only will human resources remain important to our businesses, but the end consumer will ultimately benefit from new technologies as well.

We also know that these technologies offer huge for cost-saving opportunities for our customers. The Vodacom Group recently launched Africa’s first commercial 5G service. Currently being used in Lesotho, the 5G service uses 3.5GHz spectrum to deliver fixed-wireless access to enterprise customers in the country, providing quicker deployment of broadband services at fibre-like speeds. What we’ve accomplished in Lesotho is an example of what can be achieved in Africa. The project represents a R32,7 billion investment by Vodacom over four years, and if we acquire more access to spectrum, we will be able to drive down infrastructure costs and, in turn, pass huge savings on to the consumer.

Even communities at large can benefit once digital capabilities expand. Vodacom’s prime example of transformation technology is Connected Farmer; the cloud-based web and mobile software solution that has connected thousands of smallholder farmers to the agriculture value chain. This small business model has achieved its purpose of turning smallholder farmers into a sustainable realistic and executable food manufacturers and retail businesses, increasing the number of smallholder subsistence farmers in commercial agriculture value chains within South Africa.

We are furthermore working with various municipalities on smart metering projects. We assist the Department of Health with the replenishing of stock for hospitals using our IoT system. We are also working with some of the financial services companies in terms of payments and ordering systems, and we recently launched the Citizen Engagement application, a mobile digital app that assists government and citizens with service delivery communication. All of this with the end consumer in mind.

Embrace the revolution

We are fortunate that the Fourth Industrial Revolution has been peacefully embraced thus far – but in order for this to remain, we as industry we must make more effort to relay the peaceful message that new technologies are adapted by organisations with the customer in mind.

Once consumers understand that they will be the ultimate beneficiaries of the digital revolution and the new technologies that come along with it, they too will join us in expressing excitement about its impending takeover.

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Now download a bank account

Absa has introduced an end-to-end account opening for new customers, through the Absa Banking App, which can be downloaded from the Android and Apple app stores. This follows the launch of the world first ChatBanking on WhatsApp service.

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This “download your account” feature enables new customers to Absa, to open a Cheque account, order their card and start transacting on the Absa Banking App, all within minutes, from anywhere and at any time, by downloading it from the App stores.

“Overall, this new capability is not only expected to enhance the customer’s digital experience, but we expect to leverage this in our branches, bringing digital experiences to the branch environment and making it easier for our customers to join and bank with us regardless of where they may be,” says Aupa Monyatsi, Managing Executive for Virtual Channels at Absa Retail & Business Banking.

“With this innovation comes the need to ensure that the security of our customers is at the heart of our digital experience, this is why the digital onboarding experience for this feature includes a high-quality facial matching check with the Department of Home Affairs to verify the customer’s identity, ensuring that we have the most up to date information of our clients. Security is supremely important for us.”

The new version of the Absa Banking App is now available in the Apple and Android App stores, and anyone with a South African ID can become an Absa customer, by following these simple steps:

  1. Download the Absa App
  2. Choose the account you would like to open
  3. Tell us who you are
  4. To keep you safe, we will verify your cell phone number
  5. Take a selfie, and we will do facial matching with the Department of Home Affairs to confirm you are who you say you are
  6. Tell us where you live
  7. Let us know what you do for a living and your income
  8. Click Apply.

 

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How we use phones to avoid human contact

A recent study by Kaspersky Lab has found that 75% of people pick up their connected device to avoid conversing with another human being.

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Connected devices are becoming essential to keeping people in contact with each other, but for many they are also a much-needed comfort blanket in a variety of social situations when they do not want to interact with others. A recent survey from Kaspersky Lab has confirmed this trend in behaviour after three-quarters of people (75%) admitted they use a device to pretend to be busy when they don’t want to talk to someone else, showing the importance of keeping connected devices protected under all circumstances. 

Imagine you’ve arrived at a bar and you’re waiting for your date. The bar is busy, and people are chatting all around you. What do you do now? Strike up a conversation with someone you don’t know? Grab your phone from your pocket or handbag until your date arrives to keep yourself busy? Why talk to humans or even make eye-contact with someone else when you can stare at your connected device instead?

The truth is, our use of devices is making it much easier to avoid small talk or even be polite to those around us, and new Kaspersky Lab research has found that 72% of people use one when they do not know what to do in a social situation. They are also the ‘go-to’ distraction for people even when they aren’t trying to look busy or avoid someone’s eye. 46% of people admit to using a device just to kill time every day and 44% use it as a daily distraction.

In addition to just being a distraction, devices are also a lifeline to those who would rather not talk directly to another person in day-to-day situations, to complete essential tasks. In fact, nearly a third (31%) of people would prefer to carry out tasks such as ordering a taxi or finding directions to where they need to go via a website and an app, because they find it an easier experience than speaking with another person.

Whether they are helping us avoid direct contact or filling a void in our daily lives, our constant reliance on devices has become a cause for panic when they become unusable. A third (34%) of people worry that they will not be able to entertain themselves if they cannot access a connected device. 12% are even concerned that they won’t be able to pretend to be busy if their device is out of action.

Dmitry Aleshin, VP for Product Marketing, Kaspersky Lab said, “The reliance on connected devices is impacting us in more ways than we could have ever expected. There is no doubt that being connected gives us the freedom to make modern life easier, but devices are also vital to help people get through different and difficult social situations. No matter what your ‘connection crutch’ is, it is essential to make sure your device is online and available when you need it most.”

To ensure your device lifeline is always there and in top health – no matter what the reason or situation – Kaspersky Security Cloud keeps your connection safe and secure:

·         I want to use my device while waiting for a friend – is it secure to access the bar’s Wi-Fi?

With Kaspersky Security Cloud, devices are protected against network threats, even if the user needs to use insecure public Wi-Fi hotspots. This is done through transferring data via an encrypted channel to ensure personal data safety, so users’ devices are protected on any connection.

·         Oh no! I’m bored but my phone’s battery is getting low – what am I going to do?

Users can track their battery level thanks to a countdown of how many minutes are left until their device shuts down in the Kaspersky Security Cloud interface. There is also a wide-range of portable power supplies available to keep device batteries charged while on-the-go.

·         I’ve lost my phone! How will I keep myself entertained now?

Should the unthinkable happen and you lose or have your phone stolen, Kaspersky Security Cloud can track and protect your device from data breaches, for complete peace of mind. Remote lock and locate features ensure your device remains secure until you are reunited.

 

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