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Managed services key to growth

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The tide is turning in South Africa. In the International Monetary Fund (IMF)’s new April World Economic Outlook report, the country’s growth forecast has been raised from 0.9 percent to 1.7 percent. This coincides with a plan to attract R1.2 trillion in foreign investment. Local enthusiasm is echoing this: the FNB/BER consumer confidence index rose to a record high in the first quarter of 2018 – even the people are feeling optimistic.

South Africa is both economically resilient and attractive, even as it skirted recession. One would be hard pressed to find a developing economy with so many different positive attributes, from strong financial systems and competitive wages to stable politics and a liberal, business-friendly environment. Add to that SA’s status as a gateway to Africa and it makes for a very strong investment case.

In business, when the bears are out you raise the gates, but if the bulls are running, you double down. This is double down time. As SA’s economic prospects make a dramatic about-turn, businesses should look at reinvesting in growth and to find those resources by becoming more efficient.

“Efficiency is a dangerous word in SA,” said Gavin Meyer, Executive Director of Itec Southern Africa. “To many it translates into lost jobs. Technology is painted with that same brush: we think it’s only about automating workers out of their positions. But that’s not true. The efficiencies brought through managed services unlocks more value that can be reinvested to grow businesses and their workforces.”

Though some technologies are reducing reliance on workers, in most events this is not the case. Instead many of those efficiencies tackle existing bottlenecks in companies. Relieving these lead to growth and more employment.

Today’s business has many technology tools and concerns. It worries about security, wants faster systems, and ponders how it can use data and business intelligence to grow its market share and service its customers. But often the technology it owns is like being a restaurant patron, choosing something from the menu, and then being expected to go cook the meal.

In today’s fast-paced world, companies are increasingly reliant on technology, but have less time and fewer skills to maintain those. Even a simple email or disaster recovery system can become highly unreliable and fiscally draining if not maintained well. But the conundrum is that companies are not in the business of technology: they have other priorities, so they let the technology languish.

Managed business services (MBS) takes care of this. Organisations need to offload some of those technology burdens, creating new opportunities to encourage growth. Enter MBS: this approach lets companies use the technology, manage costs and expect their MBS partner to ensure technology operations remain strong.

MBS is a major potential growth booster in South Africa. It helps businesses modernise so as to remain competitive, it takes away the headache of operational technology so IT teams can focus on new ideas, and it creates vast pools of resources that can be used for reinvestment.

MBS puts the business back in charge. Organisations can set out their expectations and expect results, not wring hands around the execution of operational technology. MBS is a big catalyst for business growth and modernisation. It should be a topic of conversation in every company.

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CES: So long, and thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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