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Enterprise gets Intelligence

A new range of services launched by SAP brings advanced technologies to the enterprise.

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At the Sapphire Now conference in Orlando last week, SAP announced new products and partnerships to enable enterprises to become more intelligent, with expanded capabilities from advanced technologies like conversational artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain and analytics. SAP also announced that SAP Cloud Platform is now available on all major cloud infrastructure providers.

The Internet of Things platform launched a year ago, Has also extended its technical capabilities for customers to embed cutting-edge technologies into their processes to improve workflows and make enterprises more efficient.

The new products and services include the following. Information as upplied by SAP:

·         SAP Conversational AI enables companies to develop intelligent chatbots. The service includes a powerful end-to-end toolkit for training, building and monitoring chatbots. These chatbots can be integrated with SAP and non-SAP systems and are available as preconfigured industry-specific bots. So far, users have built 60,000 SAP Conversational AI chatbots. France’s railway company SNCF and telecommunications provider SFR already are using SAP Conversational AI to improve customer service and target younger audiences.

·         SAP Leonardo Machine Learning capabilities are now embedded in applications across the SAP portfolio, including SAP S/4HANA Cloud, SAP C/4HANA and SAP Ariba solutions.

·         SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation, which allows customers to develop individual applications, has five new services, including object detection, text recognition in images and text classification, which analyzes and automatically categorizes text documents. It now supports the software library scikit-learn, in addition to TensorFlow.

·         SAP Cloud Platform Blockchain is a new blockchain as a service enabling enterprises to easily build and extend business solutions with blockchain technologies, such as Hyperledger Fabric and MultiChain. About 65 companies participate in the SAP blockchain co-innovation initiative to help customers use manufacturing and supply-chain products augmented by blockchain to enhance transparency, safety and collaboration in industries such as transportation, food, and pharmaceuticals. To ensure quality, U.S. sausage maker Johnsonville LLC is using blockchain to trace the origin of products across the supply chain.

To expand and accelerate global adoption and best practices of blockchain in the transportation industry, SAP has started a global blockchain consortium with seven founding members, including Intel Corp., Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. (HPE) and A3 by Airbus SE.

To help customers easily embed advanced technologies into their solutions, SAP released SAP Leonardo-based innovation kits for specific industries, including retail, life sciences, manufacturing and automotive. SAP also launched the SAP Leonardo Partner Medallion Initiative, an SAP partner service that has more than doubled the number of SAP Leonardo embedded industry solutions.

SAP Cloud Platform Takes Multicloud to New Dimensions

SAP continues to expand and enhance its multicloud strategy with the general availability of SAP Cloud Platform on Google Cloud Platform and Microsoft Azure. With these additions, along with Amazon Web Services (AWS), SAP Cloud Platform is now available on all major hyperscale cloud infrastructure providers. Only SAP delivers this single enterprise platform as a service (PaaS) with such flexibility, openness and choice.

SAP also intends to release SAP Cloud Platform, private edition, on IBM Cloud as a private cloud deployment. The joint solution will allow clients in regulated industries such as banking, healthcare and transportation, as well as those managing sensitive data, to have the flexibility, speed and agility to innovate without jeopardizing security and control.

Delivering on its promise to offer customers choice in mobile app deployments, SAP is also releasing the SAP Cloud Platform software development kit (SDK) for Android. It allows customers to access sophisticated workflows through any Android or Chrome OS device, bringing a familiar, easy-to-use mobile experience across iOS and Android apps.

SAP Analytics Cloud Innovations Enable the Intelligent Enterprise

The expanded capabilities of SAP Analytics Cloud are now directly embedded within SAP S/4HANA Cloud to ensure organizations can plan, execute and analyze in one system, breaking free from spreadsheet proliferation or stand-alone tools. Customers include leading recycled paper and packing company Pratt Industries, aerospace and defense company L3 Technologies and Daimler AG. Additionally, SAP Analytics Cloud now delivers contextual news feeds.

SAP Analytics Cloud extends access to over 150 cloud data sources, so customers can easily access, blend and gain insight from their data, no matter where it resides. The combination of machine learning and natural language query (NLQ) technology augments human intelligence, leading to faster, more accurate results and greater business agility. The new feature “search to insight” uses conversational AI to quickly provide insights into data by answering ad hoc questions in natural language on any device.

Other enhancements to SAP Analytics Cloud include prebuilt content and business logic for more than 20 SAP products, including SAP SuccessFactors®, SAP Ariba and SAP Hybris solutions and SAP S/4HANA, to embed analytics where users work. These capabilities in SAP Analytics Cloud can be embedded into SAP line-of-business applications to power the intelligent enterprise.

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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.

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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.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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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.

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