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Heat map for big data

A new wave of applications leveraging real-time data to provide accurate insights into challenges and opportunities is making an entry to Intelligent Enterprise, says JULIE TREGURTHA, Head of Database & Data Management at SAP Africa.

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The business world is undergoing a total transformation as new technologies enable the rapid processing and analysis of huge volumes of data in real-time, equipping business leaders with unprecedented insight into granular detail of every aspect of their business. A new wave of applications leveraging real-time data to provide accurate insights into challenges and opportunities is heralding the entry of the Intelligent Enterprise. But such changes do not come without significant challenges.

The escalating volume of data and the organisational complexity required to collect and store the data and then analyse it for insights that can deliver business value is forcing IT leaders to fundamentally rethink their data storage and database management strategies. As technologies such as IoT generate exponentially more data, IT leaders will have to transform their approach not only to how data is stored and managed right now but build strategies that can equip the enterprise with the agility to manage tomorrow’s challenges too.

The escalating challenge of data storage

Not too long ago, data scientists maintained that the volume of data would double every two years to reach 40 zettabytes – or 40 trillion gigabytes – by 2020. As the Internet of Things becomes increasingly pervasive, though, that figure has been revised to 44ZB, incorporating increasing volumes of non-text data such as video, graphics and other visual media.

A recent SAP study of more than 500 IT decision-makers around the world found that 74% of business leaders felt their data landscape is so complex that it limits their agility, with 86% saying they were not getting the most out of their data. When the billions of sensors connected to the Internet of Everything comes online (according to Gartner anything between 12 and 30 billion sensors will be active by 2020) the volume of data will increase exponentially, making it even more important to store data in the most effective and efficient manner possible.

Compounding the problem is the typical enterprise’s reliance on a mix of older and next-generation data storage tools, ranging from high-end in-memory computing platforms to tapes and external hard drives. Without integrating these data sets into a cohesive core, the data residing in such environments holds little to no value to the business. And considering the sheer volume of data a modern enterprise generates, data storage strategies need to evolve quickly to enable IT leaders to deliver real-time value to the business using accurate insights gained from verified data.

Plotting big data on a temperature heat map

One measure enterprises may take in storing and managing data more effectively is to classify data according to its ‘temperature’, from hot to cold. Hot data is the most accessed and includes the likes of the latest sales data. According to studies, this type of data accounts for less than 20% of a typical enterprise’s stored data. Hot data needs to be accessed frequently and as such performs best when stored in-memory where it can be retrieved quickly.

Cold data is the remaining 80% of an enterprise’s data which is accessed less than 10% of the time. It’s not typically cost-effective to store this type of data in-memory, despite the falling cost of memory.

Enterprises wishing to allocate a temperature to different types of data to more effectively store and retrieve such data need to look at a form of dynamic storage hierarchy. While it’s important to have experienced and skilled database administrators driving the initial process of developing the data storage strategy, it is impossible for humans to determine the heat of data manually.

Here, a database management platform that can support different data management strategies can deliver the best value. SAP HANA enables advanced analytics running alongside high-speed transactions in real-time for hot data while also integrating with cold data solutions such as Hadoop as well as other external data storage solutions. In one IDC white paper, businesses using SAP HANA realised a five-year ROI of 575% while enabling 40% higher productivity and 29% more efficient database management.

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Cape Town not so calm – if you’re a driver

Cape Town drivers lose on average 162 hours a year to traffic jams, so will need some tech and a few tips to stay calm

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Cape Town drivers lose, on average, 162 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, and the city is ranked 95th out of around 200 cities, across 38 countries surveyed globally, in terms of congestion issues.

That’s according to the latest INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, which is an annual analysis of mobility and congestion trends. The study provides a data-rich evaluation of information collected during peak (slowest) travel times, and inter peak (fastest point between morning and afternoon commutes) travel times. Together they provide a holistic account of congestion throughout the day, delivering in-depth insights for vehicle drivers and policy-makers to make better decisions regarding urban travel and traffic health.

Of the further five South African cities surveyed:

  • Pretoria drivers lose, on average, 143 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, ranking as the 64thmost congested city
  • Johannesburg drivers lose an average of 119 hours annually, ranking 61st
  • Durban drivers lose 72 hours, ranking 141st
  • Port Elizabeth drivers lose 71 hours, ranking 75th
  • And Bloemfontein drivers lose 62 hours, ranking 165th

If these hours sound horrific, spare a thought for the poor drivers in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá who lose, on average, a whopping 272 hours a year stuck in traffic jams!

On average, drivers’ commutes increase by roughly 30% during peak versus inter-peak hours. And the reality is that congestion issues aren’t going away anytime soon. Not here in SA, or anywhere else in the world. So what can we, as drivers, do to make the situation easier to cope with on our daily commute?

Change of mindset

Stressing about the unavoidable, the inevitable, and all the things that are out of our control – like congestion caused by accidents, faulty street lights, or bad weather – is a waste of energy. We should try finding ways of using that time in our cars more productively, to create a less tense, more positive experience. Learning to change our perspective about this challenging time, and associating it with something enjoyable, can drastically alter our reaction to and engagement with it. Rather than expending all our energy on futile anger and frustration, we can channel our focus on things that relax or energise us instead.

Just one more chapter

Being stuck in traffic usually aggravates us because it feels like a huge waste of valuable time. But like a wise man once said, time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. Listening to a podcast or audiobook can not only be entertaining, but also educational, which is a brilliant use of your time. Ifyou think of your car as a ‘learning lab’, a mobile university of sorts, and your time spent inside as away to exercise your brain and grow intellectually, you may even find yourself wishing for bad traffic so you have an excuse to carry on listening to your podcast or audiobook.

Tame your inner Hulk

Pulling up a playlist of your favourite, feel-good songs can do wonders to combat stress levels. Downbeat music has been proven to have a mellowing effect on drivers. Making a quick switch to downbeat music shows measurable physiological improvements, with drivers calming down much sooner, and making fewer driving mistakes. So the next time you feel your inner Hulk emerging, crank up the volume on your favourite tunes.

The power of ‘caromatherapy’

There are numerous studies on aromas and their impact on human emotion, behaviour, and performance. Researchers have found that peppermint can enhance mental and athletic performance and cognitive functioning, while cinnamon may improve tasks related to attentional processes and visual-motor response speed. A study from Kyoto University in Japan revealed that participants reported significantly lower hostility and depression scores, and felt more relaxed after awalk through a pine forest. It makes sense then, to incorporate some ‘caromatherapy’ into our lives. There are plenty of off-the-shelf car diffusers available, or you could add a few drops of essential oil to DIY felt air fresheners. Citrus scents like orange or lemon can provide a boost of energy, while rosemary can relieve stress and anxiety. Take care not to hang anything that might obstruct your field of vision though, and always make sure to test out essential oils at home first, in case a scent makes you dizzy or overly relaxed, which could affect driving focus.

Contemplate your navel

The mind is a powerful thing, and simply willing yourself to relax might be the most effective method of all. While we don’t recommend meditating while driving due to safety reasons, breathing exercises can help you stay focused and feeling calm. One useful practice is the one-to-one technique – breathing in and out for the same count with the same intensity. Deep, measured breaths facilitate full oxygen exchange, helping to slow down the rate of your heartbeat and stabilise blood pressure, as opposed to shallow breathing, which doesn’t send enough air to the lowest part of your lungs, causing you to feel anxious and short of breath. Just always keep your eyes on the road, and take care to ensure you’re not so busy counting breaths that your concentration is compromised.

Not all those who wander are lost

Some of our best ideas come in those moments where we’re alone with our own thoughts, able to really reflect on the ideas we have without having something immediate that needs our attention. Allow your mind to wander, and do a little brainstorming. Alternatively, use the time to simply day dream. Remember, downtime is not dead time. It is both necessary, and important for your mental health. Use this time as an opportunity to take care of yourself.

In-built vehicle tech

“As we spend more and more time commuting, cars are being designed to accommodate longer periods behind the wheel,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Ford uses human-centric design to deliver vehicles that are inviting, accommodating, and intuitive. For example, our SYNCT infotainment system offers nifty, hands-free functions, like allowing drivers to listen to their texts, change music or climate settings, and make phone calls easily with voice control. Our range of driver-assist technologies, like Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Semi-Auto Active Park Assist, are also designed to take some of the stress off city driving. If our lifestyle means that we might be spending more time in our cars than we do on holiday, then we should make sure we make the most of that time.”

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Vodacom exits Africa biz services

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Vodacom Group has sold Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire to Andile Ngcaba’s Synergy Communications. The two entities are in the process of concluding the acquisitions, which are subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities within these markets.

Vodacom says the transaction supports the Group’s enterprise strategy in Africa, which has been refocused to grow and strengthen its core business. It will no longer directly service global enterprise customers in these three markets but will rather continue to operate as a pan African telecommunications networks provider through local relationships, like the one with Synergy Communications. 

This acquisition represents a significant milestone in Synergy Communication’s quest to be a leading provider of cloud and digitally based services in key markets across sub-Saharan Africa and provides key additional assets in its build out of a regional footprint. Synergy Communications currently has operations in Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.

Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Synergy Communications said: “This is an exciting landmark transaction for Synergy Communications, providing us with additional momentum in the delivery of our strategy as a pan-African enterprise digital Services Provider. Synergy Communications will partner with major global cloud providers and deliver platform-based services to both multi-nationals and local enterprises.”

Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group, said: “Vodacom has a clear vision for strengthening our position as a leading pan-African business and will work with local service providers like Synergy Communications to grow in these markets. Crucially, Vodacom is not exiting any of the territories related to this transaction and remains focused on continuing to deliver exceptional service to our global and multinational clients in these markets through long-term commercial agreements. 

“To support the sustainable growth of pan African digital economies and building connected societies, Vodacom will, via local service providers, continue to service clients in each market. We seek to leverage the collective strengths of Vodacom and Synergy Communications to meet the changing requirements of clients across each of these markets.”

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