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Why Dell’s emerging market growth outpaces the rest

Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell tells ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK that Africa is bright with tech opportunity

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The founder and CEO of Dell Technologies says that the company’s rapid growth in Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), which has outpaced that in the rest of the world, is a direct result of the massive opportunity in the region.

“Ultimately, we’ve invested where there has been opportunity,” Michael Dell said last week in an exclusive briefing. “The EMEA region has been a great performer, with fantastic capabilities and great teams. We’ve given the team a lot of resources, and customers have responded. It’s a familiar story, because it has also happened in other regions.”

Dell was talking at the end of the Dell Technologies World expo in Las Vegas, which drew a record 15,000 paying delegates this week. The event came in the wake of the company reporting its first quarterly results since relisting on the stock market following the record $67-billion acquisition of storage giants EMC. Revenue for the quarter reached $21.4-billion, up 19% from the previous quarter.

The company also recorded its fifth consecutive quarter of growth in PC shipments, led by the EMEA region, during a period that saw continual decline in PC sales globally, and many rivals exiting emerging markets.

“We’ve all learned that you have to evolve and change what you’re doing to stay relevant. The capabilities we’ve announced at Dell Technologies World this week are highly relevant and totally market oriented towards the demand out there. We’re significantly differentiated relative to our competitors, and our partners see that.”

Aongus Hegarty, president of Dell Technologies for EMEA, said that the region had gone through strong economic growth, which had led to increased demand for information technology. This was reflected in the emergence of numerous start-ups, as well as the expansion of small and medium enterprises.

“In combining Dell and EMC to form Dell Technologies, the collaboration between the two organisations has worked particularly well in all our markets in EMEA,” he said. “Michael has supported us in the Middle East and across Africa, at a time when many technology companies were withdrawing or outsourcing, while we were building up expertise on the ground.

“It’s much more a business discussion than a technology-led conversation. We start with business objectives and challenges.”

The biggest risk in the region, Michael Dell stressed, would be not taking risks.

“To me, risk goes with innovation and success,” he said. “So you have to take risk. Inside many big corporations people talk of risk reduction and risk management but, if you don’t take risks, you won’t innovate and you won’t succeed. It doesn’t mean all risks will be successful: you have to learn quickly, use data, understand what’s working and make adjustments as you go.”

Within the EMEA region, the territory known as META, covering the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, performed especially well. Mohammed Amin, Dell’s senior vice president for the territory, said the company saw 20% growth in the last quarter, and increased its 5000-strong workforce by 900 employees in the past year.

“Some of our competitors closed down in the region or reduced investment or headcount,” he said. “The acquisition of EMC gave us a huge opportunity to serve our customers. Many large customers already wanted to consolidate their vendors, so it was great thing for them when we came together.

“The other important thing was that there was no conflict of product or go to market strategy. Dell had access to so many customers that EMC could not access and vice versa, so combined we had access to a much bigger customer base.”

The South African market saw spectacular performance, propelling the country into the top ten of Dells’ global Digital Transformation Index, which measures business readiness to compete in a digital world. According to Doug Woolley, general manager of Dell Technologies in South Africa, the company holds just under 50% market share in storage hardware, around 40% in servers, and about 22% in personal computing.

“We’ve got a very strong market share position, but I’m less worried about share than how to help customers be competitive,” he said. “It’s about how do you help customers transform. The share looks after itself if you look after customers.”

The company also appears to be differentiated by its response to political uncertainty, which has been a factor in some competitors pulling back from emerging markets.

Said Amin: “We never pull back because of a short-term situation. This is one of our secret sauces. Companies trust that we will be there in good times, but also in tough times.”

The trust of customers, Michael Dell confirmed, was at the heart of the company’s success: “To continue winning their trust, we have to keep reinventing ourselves all the time. That is built into our culture.”

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Revealing the real cost of ‘free’ online services

A free service by Finnish cybersecurity provider F-Secure reveals the real cost of using “free” services by Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, among others.

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What do Google, Facebook, and Amazon have in common? Privacy and identity scandals. From Cambridge Analytica to Google’s vulnerability in Google+, the amount of personal data sitting on these platforms is enormous.

Cybersecurity provider F-Secure has released a free online tool that helps expose the true cost of using some of the web’s most popular free services. And that cost is the abundance of data that has been collected about users by Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon Alexa, Twitter, and Snapchat. The good news is that you can take back your data “gold”.

F-Secure Data Discovery Portal sends users directly to the often hard-to-locate resources provided by each of these tech giants that allow users to review their data, securely and privately.

“What you do with the data collection is entirely between you and the service,” says Erka Koivunen, F-Secure Chief Information Security Officer. “We don’t see – and don’t want to see – your settings or your data. Our only goal is to help you find out how much of your information is out there.”

More than half of adult Facebook users, 54%, adjusted how they use the site in the wake of the scandal that revealed Cambridge Analytica had collected data without users’ permission.* But the biggest social network in the world continues to grow, reporting 2.3 billion monthly users at the end of 2018.**

“You often hear, ‘if you’re not paying, you’re the product.’ But your data is an asset to any company, whether you’re paying for a product or not,” says Koivunen. “Data enables tech companies to sell billions in ads and products, building some of the biggest businesses in the history of money.”

F-Secure is offering the tool as part of the company’s growing focus on identity protection that secures consumers before, during, and after data breaches. By spreading awareness of the potential costs of these “free” services, the Data Discovery Portal aims to make users aware that securing their data and identity is more important than ever.

A recent F-Secure survey found that 54% of internet users over 25 worry about someone hacking into their social media accounts.*** Data is only as secure as the networks of the companies that collect it, and the passwords and tactics used to protect our accounts. While the settings these sites offer are useful, they cannot eliminate the collection of data.

Koivunen says: “While consumers effectively volunteer this information, they should know the privacy and security implications of building accounts that hold more potential insight about our identities than we could possibly share with our family. All of that information could be available to a hacker through a breach or an account takeover.”

However, there is no silver bullet for users when it comes to permanently locking down security or hiding it from the services they choose to use.

“Default privacy settings are typically quite loose, whether you’re using a social network, apps, browsers or any service,” says Koivunen. “Review your settings now, if you haven’t already, and periodically afterwards. And no matter what you can do, nothing stops these companies from knowing what you’re doing when you’re logged into their services.”

*Source: https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/05/americans-are-changing-their-relationship-with-facebook/
**Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/1/30/18204186/facebook-q4-2018-earnings-user-growth-revenue-increase-privacy-scandals
***Source: F-Secure Identity Protection Consumer (B2C) Survey, May 2019, conducted in cooperation with survey partner Toluna, 9 countries (USA, UK, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Brazil, Finland, Sweden, and Japan), 400 respondents per country = 3600 respondents (+25years)

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WhatsApp comes to KaiOS

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By the end of September, WhatsApp will be pre-installed on all phones running the KaiOS operating system, which turns feature phones into smart phones. The announcement was made yesterday by KaiOS Technologies, maker of the KaiOS mobile operating system for smart feature phones, and Facebook. WhatsApp is also available for download in the KaiStore, on both 512MB and 256MB RAM devices.

“KaiOS has been a critical partner in helping us bring private messaging to smart feature phones around the world,” said Matt Idema, COO of WhatsApp. “Providing WhatsApp on KaiOS helps bridge the digital gap to connect friends and family in a simple, reliable and secure way.”

WhatsApp is a messaging tool used by more than 1.5 billion people worldwide who need a simple, reliable and secure way to communicate with friends and family. Users can use calling and messaging capabilities with end-to-end encryption that keeps correspondence private and secure. 

WhatsApp was first launched on the KaiOS-powered JioPhone in India in September of 2018. Now, with the broad release, the app is expected to reach millions of new users across Africa, Europe, North America, Southeast Asia, and Latin America.

“We’re thrilled to bring WhatsApp to the KaiOS platform and extend such an important means of communication to a brand new demographic,” said Sebastien Codeville, CEO of KaiOS Technologies. “We strive to make the internet and digital services accessible for everyone and offering WhatsApp on affordable smart feature phones is a giant leap towards this goal. We can’t wait to see the next billion users connect in meaningful ways with their loved ones, communities, and others across the globe.”

KaiOS-powered smart feature phones are a new category of mobile devices that combine the affordability of a feature phone with the essential features of a smartphone. They meet a growing demand for affordable devices from people living across Africa – and other emerging markets – who are not currently online. 

WhatsApp is now available for download from KaiStore, an app store specifically designed for KaiOS-powered devices and home to the world’s most popular apps, including the Google Assistant, YouTube, Facebook, Google Maps and Twitter. Apps in the KaiStore are customised to minimise data usage and maximise user experience for smart feature phone users.

In Africa, the KaiOS-powered MTN Smart and Orange Sanza are currently available in 22 countries, offering 256MB RAM and 3G connectivity.

KaiOS currently powers more than 100 million devices shipped worldwide, in over 100 countries. The platform enables a new category of devices that require limited memory, while still offering a rich user experience.

* For more details, visit: Meet The Devices That Are Powered by KaiOS

* Also read Arthur Goldstuck’s story, Smart feature phones spell KaiOS

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