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In data-driven business, people are now miners

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As a goldsmith can double the value of gold, so can skilled people turn data into insights or business models, says NIRAL PATEL, MD of Oracle South Africa.

Data, as a raw material with a recognised value, is often likened to gold.  Just as prospectors once crossed continents in search of gold, many companies today spare no expense in collecting as much data as possible to inform their decision-making. Like gold, data also has a market value even in an uncertain economy and just as gold must be mined and processed in order to be crafted into items of even greater value, so data must be collected, collated and analysed in order to present businesses with valuable insights from their ‘digital gold’.

At every stage of that process, people are crucial. Much is made of the volumes of data being created and churned by machines with huge processing power, but without people the value of data cannot be unlocked. As a goldsmith can double or treble the value of gold by turning it into a ring, so skilled people can turn data into insights, applications or whole business models with incredible value. To succeed in a data-driven economy, businesses need the visionaries who can imagine and explore the value that exists within their data. They need the inspirational thinkers who can plan a path to unlocking that value and they need the technical minds and problem solvers who can harness the full power of technology such as cloud to connect data and mine it for insights.

Any business planning to unlock the value of its data must not underestimate the role people play alongside data and machines. Every business needs to find the right balance of each; a ‘golden ratio’ where the right people are working with the right data, with the right tools at their disposal to deliver maximum value.

Consider the many businesses sitting on huge stockpiles of information from a growing number of sources. There have been a stream of predictions around how the Internet of Things (IoT) will change the way companies work, for example. But apart from a few major players, most industrial organizations use a fraction of their IoT data. Most are still only scratching the surface of what’s possible when it comes to analysing that information.

So what is holding companies back? They certainly have enough data and the technology exists to collect and analyse it. It is often the right people who are missing. People are at the centre of planning and decision-making and for all the advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, only people can ensure the business is working with the right data, asking the right questions of its analytics, and most crucially applying those learnings in the right way to address human needs and problems. In many instances, there are not enough people asking the right questions of their data, or using it in the right ways. Some businesses may think more machines and more data are the answer, but it is about striking a balance and that means having the right people.

There is undoubtedly a digital gold rush happening right now and it will favour those businesses with the right people in place; people who know where to look, how to mine their data and how to turn it into something far more valuable than the sum of its parts. People will be the gold miners and goldsmiths of the data-driven businesses of tomorrow.

* This is the first in a series of three blog posts

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Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart

Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.

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As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page

KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching. 

The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter. 

The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style. 

The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button. 

The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on. 

In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode. 

Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.

Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.

Find them on Kickstarter here.

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Taxify enters Google Maps

A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.

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People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.

Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.

Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.

If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.

This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.

“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.

Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.

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