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.
Money talks and electronic gaming evolves
Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.
The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.
The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games.
It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.
MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.
“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”
New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.
“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”
Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.
Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.
This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.
What is blockchain?
A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.
A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.
Each block stores:
– A number of valid records or transactions.
– Information referring to that block.
– A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.
Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.
As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.
How is blockchain so secure?
Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.
Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.
In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.
What else can blockchain be used for?
Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.
Use of blockchain in healthcare
Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.
Use of blockchain for documents
Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.
Other blockchain uses
This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.
Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.
Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.