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Disrupt or be disrupted

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Multiple small companies are challenging the status quo and embracing the notion – disrupt or be disrupted. These disruptors are leveraging the key digital transformations to reinvent – if not invent, writes INDRAN NAICK.

Across the continent we see more and more forward-thinking empowering applications of technology. There is a surge in tech start-ups and a swell in the optimism for what technology can do to help the manifold challenges facing the continent.

Companies like the winner of IBM Smart Camp 2015 in South Africa, micro jobbing platform M4JAM (Money for Jam), are shaking up industry with their disruptive business models.  They are on a mission to change the world one micro job at a time – disrupting traditional players in the research, mystery shopping, merchandising and brand activation sector. Their engaging platform enables their community of over 90000 people the opportunity to earn money by using their smart phones as they go about their daily routines.

In just under 15 months M4JAM has been able to demonstrate value to 95 of the biggest brands in South Africa. Providing them with real time data which, with the help of Pondering Panda, is now being turned into real time insights. This access to immediate information allows brands the opportunity to change strategy or respond to market changes while a promotion is on or product is still offered.

Real time, in the moment insights, is proving to be a significant competitive advantage for companies embracing M4JAM.

Interestingly, it’s not alone. Multiple smaller niche digital companies are challenging the status quo and embracing the notion – disrupt or be disrupted.

These disruptors are doing something different. They are leveraging the key digital transformations to reinvent – if not invent – their business processes.

Using new mobile apps to bring data and decision making to the fingertips of people at the front lines, disruptors are enabling the people who need to respond. In doing this they enable the organisation to become more nimble and provide better service.

Today more data, insight and capabilities are available in both employee and customer devices at the point of action, enabling faster, better decisions and action in the business moment. Disruptors are using insight from nontraditional data – social data from the likes of Twitter, the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable devices and m2m to capture insight and create new business moments.

Disruptors are also focusing on creating their unique differentiation and sourcing from developer communities to help complete complex products and solutions. They are leveraging digital services from a broad ecosystem so they can focus on their core competencies. Pretty smart, right?

Yet these new perspectives and approaches are grounded firmly in digital business transformation.  Understand which business processes are going to change, which ones are impacted and which have potential for improvement with technology – specifically cloud.

Above all, disruptors understand the next generation of IT is built around a hybrid cloud. That’s cloud that uses private cloud foundation combined with the strategic integration and use of public cloud services. The best of both worlds so to speak.

Cloud technology in this hybrid format offers the company the ability to securely connect apps, data and services across the cloud and traditional systems – along with devices – and also seamlessly weave data and services with APIs to create new apps.

Now imagine using the insight from that data in real time business critical processes and you can begin to grasp just how this new hybrid cloud provides access to a wealth of data for innovation.

Another example of this born-on-the cloud innovation is from a company called Figtory, a small mobile development shop that has adopted Bluemix and Softlayer to accelerate their product development lifecycle. The IBM cloud platforms gave them the ability to quickly host and test new products and services. They can now quickly turn innovations into prototypes to show their prospective clients what the finished product might look like, reducing the cycle time from weeks to days.

So, while there may not be a “one size fits all” remedy for business today, or a cloud solution that fits every situation, there is a growing awareness that cloud technology enables and accelerates digital business. It’s the transformation required to disrupt or avoid being disrupted.

* Indran Naick, Cloud Ecosystems and Enterprise Development Leader, IBM South Africa.

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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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