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Diversity is crucial to tech

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By DOUG WOOLLEY, GM Dell EMC South Africa

Gender inequality has dogged the ITC world for a long time. According to research from McKinsey, less than 20% of roles in the sector are filled by women. Overall, the report found that women under-contribute to global GDP because they are more likely to be employed in low-productivity sectors instead of high-productivity ones such as business services. This needs to change.

Humans are social creatures. It’s hardwired in us to communicate, collaborate and lift each other to achieve. There isn’t a single example in history where someone accomplished anything great on their own. Behind every iconoclastic moment stands a group of people who were there to help, advise and create. Humans are stronger together – that’s how we’ve come so far.

For Dell Technologies this is not even a matter for debate. Its culture code includes winning together, selflessness and relationships. A long time ago the company affirmed not only that people are its most valuable assets, but that diversity is fundamental especially in today’s fast-evolving world. This is why it’s proud to sponsor the Women In Tech Africa summit, due to happen on 18 and 19 March in Cape Town.

Brian Reeves, our international chief diversity and inclusion officer, said it best: it’s in the DNA of the company. It’s not what we do, it’s who we are. That message has particular importance in South Africa, where we have a constitution that celebrates equality. Yes, this is a very unequal country, but that’s why we must take this responsibility even more seriously. Diversity is a competitive advantage, but in the case of South Africa it’s how we are defining the future.

Summits such as these are very important. We have to move past the perception that diversity and inclusion are only for window dressing. The fact is I can tell you all the time how serious Dell Technologies is about this, but only action grows real change. So we are very happy and keen to support this summit because it tackles a very crucial and multi-dimensional topic.

Our team is very focused on expanding Dell EMC SA’s diversity. Last year he sponsored the launch of the Black Network Alliance’s first non-US chapter, right here in South Africa, and initiated by Dell EMC’s Black Networking Alliance (BNA) EMEA Lead Angela Allen. The BNA is one of numerous Dell Technologies employee resource groups (ERGs). Spread across more than 60 countries and 300 chapters, these ERGs include groups for a variety of concerns, including empowering women.

Not only are there ERGs, but Dell Technologies audits and scrutinises its diversity projects with the same rigour and expectations as it would for other parts of the business, taking into account how it impacts the top line, bottom line, and innovation. Sponsoring the Women in Tech Africa summit is yet another confirmation of how seriously Dell EMC SA treats diversity as a business advantage. It’s a message resonated by partners such as VMWare, another sponsor for the summit.

Lorna Hardie, regional director at VMware sub-Saharan Africa, said: “As part of a global business where inclusion has moved from a discussion around the boardroom table to one we live and breathe every day, it is critical that we bring these actions, and not just teachings to all women in Africa. Supporting platforms such as the Women in Tech Africa summit, provides us with an opportunity to put the spotlight on diversity and inclusion, to share the collective experiences that as sister companies we share, and work on bringing a working inclusive model to the African workplace.”

The Women in Tech Africa summit will take place on 18 and 19 March in Cape Town, South Africa, at the Century City Conference Centre. Visit https://www.women-in-tech-africa-summit.com/ and use the code DELL20 for a 20% discount.

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Gadget goes to Hollywood

Gadget spent two days at Netflix studios last week, and ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK talks to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

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Netflix CEO Reed Hastings is no stranger to Africa. He has travelled throughout South Africa, taught maths in Swaziland for two years with the Peace Corps, and visits close family in Maputo. As a result, he is keenly aware of the South African entertainment and connectivity landscape.

In an exclusive interview at the Netflix studios in Hollywood, Los Angeles last week, he revealed that Netflix had no intentions of challenging MultiChoice’s dominance of live sports broadcasting on the continent.

“Other firms will do sport and news; we are trying to focus on movies and TV shows,” he said. “There are a lot of areas that are video that we are not doing: sports, news, video gaming, user-generated content. We don’t have live sport.

Reed Hastings at the Netflix studios in Hollywood last week. Pic: ADAM ROSE

“We’re not replacing MultiChoice at all. Their subscriber growth is steady in South Africa. They serve a need that’s independent of the Internet, via low-price satellite. There is no intention of capturing that audience. If they’re growing, it’s because they serve a need.”

While Reed ruled out any collaboration with MultiChoice on its satellite delivery platform, despite its collaboration with another pay-TV service, Sky TV in the United Kingdom, he did not close the door. He stressed that Netflix saw itself as an Internet-based service, and would pursue the opportunities offered by evolving broadband in Africa.

“If you look in other markets like the USA, how Comcast carries us on set-top boxes with their other services, it could happen with MultiChoice, the same as with all the pay-TV providers.

“We’re really focused on being a service over the Internet and not over satellite. Our service doesn’t work on satellite. Where we work with Sky is on Internet-connected devices. We’re happy to work on Internet-connected devices. We tend to work on smart TVs, but need broadband Internet for that.

“Broadband is getting faster in Nigeria, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa – we can see the positive trendlines – so it’s more likely we will work with broadband Internet companies.”

Hastings is a firm believer in the idea that one content provider’s success does not depend on pushing another down.

“HBO has grown at the same time as we have, so can see our success doesn’t determine their success. What matters is amazing content with which the world falls in love.”

Click here to read about Netflix’s international expansion, and how the streaming service selects content for its platform.

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Google announces its ‘Netflix for gaming’

The new gaming platform, Stadia, promises high-definition gaming on TVs, computers, and mobile devices, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Google has announced that it has moved into the gaming space, and it focuses on two big aspects of gaming: streaming of games for gamers, which will allow gamers to game anywhere with a fast, low-latency Internet connection; and audiences that watch gamers in-game.

This is a big move in making gaming accessible to more gamers, as it reduces hardware costs, by utilising the benefits of low-latency cloud computing. This will be achieved by using a globally connected network of Google data centres. Gamers who stream games are most likely already using a high-speed, low-latency Internet connection, so access to the Stadia platform will be an added expense.

Through the Stadia platform, gamers will be able to access a large library of games at all times, with no installation time, on virtually any screen. Scaling of hardware like CPU, GPU, memory, and storage is also possible, as one would for cloud server resources.

Google will be leveraging its other platforms, like YouTube, with Stadia streaming. It claims that 200-million people are watching game-related content daily on YouTube. This allows, for example, Stadia players to jump in with other Stadia players – no downloads, no updates, no patches, and no installs.

For console players, Google has designed a custom controller.

The controller was designed to establish a direct connection from the Stadia controller to Google’s data centre through Wi-Fi for the best possible gaming performance. The controller also includes a button for instant capture, saving, and sharing gameplay in 4K resolution. It sports a Google Assistant button and built-in microphone, as many Google products do, for voice control. 

The device is expected to be released later this year, pending FCC approval.

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