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People, data and machines must come together

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With so many devices, systems and services connected via the cloud, data now surrounds us and businesses are getting wise to the insights. However it needs the right people, using the right tools to unlock its full value, writes NIRAL PATEL, MD Oracle SA.

Many of the companies now racing to unlock the value of their data are undoubtedly being spurred on by the meteoric rise of disruptive brands whose business models are based almost entirely on the smart use of data. The brilliant minds behind these disruptive brands identified the power of data to deliver differentiation and improved services and experiences, even in industries once thought to be commoditised.

The amount of data available is going up all the time, driven by everything from smart phones and energy meters to connected cars, kitchen appliances and wearable devices. The rise of cloud computing has not only exponentially increased the amount of data in circulation, it has also given that data a far great currency by making it easier to collect, share, analyse and interpret.

With so many devices, systems and services connected via the cloud, data now surrounds us and businesses are getting wise to the insights and value they can derive from it, if they know what they are looking for and what role they want the data to perform. That is an important point. Data on its own is just the raw material. It needs the right people, using the right tools to unlock its full value.

But used smartly, this wealth of information has changed how organisations operate at a fundamental level. Data is driving breakthroughs, solving problems and inspiring change in business, conservation, entertainment, medicine, politics, science, technology. There is no business or service that cannot gain an edge by understanding more about the data it creates and the data it can acquire.

Take Telefonica. The Spanish telecoms operator has implemented an analytics programme to better understand the usage patterns of its television customers and draws on this insight to offer personalised recommendations for additional content and services. Telefonica has also monetised this in-depth view of customers by opening new revenue streams with content providers and media producers who also want to tailor their own content to the operator’s audience. The returns have been significant and today Telefonica commands 30% of Spain’s lucrative digital media and advertising market.

Businesses have turned to analytics to not only make money, but to protect money, using data to help identify fraud. Augmenting traditional methods of identifying fraud, which could be time consuming and labour intensive, with data-driven detection that draws on internal sources such as pattern recognition within claims data, to external sources such as social media, businesses can quickly and robustly interrogate claims, reducing both fraud and false-positives that could offend honest customers.

But every success story about how data is transforming businesses and experiences is a triumph not only of data, but of the people and machines who turn it into valuable insights. Data is powering innovation at the point where human ingenuity meets modern technology. It is the balance of these three forces that will distinguish the data-driven organizations shaping our world.

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How to power your SME when the lights go out

Tips for maintaining your IT – and your sanity! – when Eskom does the darkness, by AARON THORNTON, managing director of Dial a Nerd

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While the recent wave of load shedding may have inspired more of us to indulge in candlelight dinners and non-virtual activities (yes, really!), it has been highly disruptive for SMEs. And while we all may be holding our collective breath to see what happens next with Eskom, the more intelligent move is to simply prepare for the worst. For savvy SMEs, such preparation need not break the bank. In fact, our tips will help you trim operational costs in the long-term. Bliss!

 1 – Utilise the short-term happiness of the UPS (it’s clean!)

Okay, so we know that you despise acronyms: ‘UPS’ stands for Uninterrupted Power Supply and is essentially a battery that will keep electronic devices running for a short period of time. This can be a true lifesaver when you need to complete those essential tasks. Beyond the short-term relief, a UPS is even more valuable in that it will also (by virtue of its composition) provide ‘clean power’. On the other hand, while those noisy generators certainly can provide more continuity, generators often cause electrical spikes that damage equipment over time. In other words, generators produce ‘dirty power’.

2 – Purchase Surge Protectors (Simple but Critical!)

In line with the statement concluding Point 1, beware of electrical surges! And no, we are not talking about the surge of emotion you feel towards Eskom (or variants thereof), we’re talking about, well, real electricity. After a spell of load shedding, the danger is that when the power comes back on, it arrives with a spike or surge that can burn out or damage electronic equipment. Hence, we strongly recommend that business owners place surge protection plugs on all electronic devices. This is typically an investment of a few hundred rand – for devices that cost well into the thousands.

3 – Look for Power Savvy Hardware (hint: it’s under your nose)

While laptops and smartphones are useful fallbacks when the power goes out, SMEs can also opt for microcomputing devices such as the CloudGateXs – a locally developed mini-PC that uses less than ten percent of the electricity that a typical desktop requires. This type of energy-saving device enables SMEs to continue operating for a longer time (with much of the processing power and storage capabilities that traditional computers offer). No, this isn’t too good to be true…and yes, it’s highly affordable! 

Now that you can equip your SME with the means to operate efficiently in the dark, you can also enjoy those candlelight dinners in peace!

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Parents worried about online – but few discuss with kids

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84% of parents worldwide are worried about their children’s online safety, according to the latest survey commissioned by Kaspersky and conducted by the market research company Savanta. Despite this, the report shows that globally, on average, parents only spend a total of 46 minutes talking to their children about online security through their entire childhood.

Riaan Badenhorst, General Manager of Kaspersky in Africa, says: “Although global figures, I feel that this situation is likely mirrored in the local market and something that needs attention to change. With the digital world expanding continuously, offering opportunities that cannot be ignored, we tend to be quick on the uptake of exposing children to all things digital, to support their schooling requirements and recreational activities. However, we should not lose sight of the fact that the digital world is also a dangerous playground, filled with bullies and strangers that just like in the real world, pose risk to children.”

Using technology has quickly become a daily norm. Not only is the working world tech-reliant but globally the education sector is evolving towards more tech-related learning – meaning that children today need to understand how to use technology to successfully get through their schooling career.

It is not surprising then that the Kaspersky survey found that of the respondents, over 9 in 10 children between 7 to 12-years of age globally now have an Internet-enabled device, smartphone or tablet. Naturally, and considering this reality, children’s privacy and security online are becoming one of the parents’ most prominent concerns – but what are parents doing about it?

Some of the most dangerous online threats globally, according to those parents who participated in the survey include:

  • Children seeing harmful content, such as sexual or violent (27%);
  • Experiencing Internet addiction (26%); and
  • Receiving anonymous messages or content inciting them to carry out the violent or inappropriate activity (14%).

Over and above these, there is also the concern of cyberbullying – which is particularly relevant in the local market.

Adds Badenhorst; “In the local market, we are hearing more about cases of a loss of life due to suicide as a result of cyberbullying. Having children of my own, this is a harsh reality that I am very concerned about and especially considering that a 2018 report, by research company Ipsos Global Advisor, shows that among 28 countries South Africa showed the highest prevalence of cyberbullying.”

To reduce the potential risks children face, parents and/or guardians need to take the time to explain – and consistently – the dangers of the Internet and teach their children or their wards at consistent intervals about safe Internet habits and practices. While globally 81% of parents say it is a joint responsibility between parents and schools to teach children about online safety, 86% believe that parents are better positioned to undertake this important teaching as children generally trust them more.

Dr Tertia Harker, a Social Worker with a Doctorate in Psychology in private practice in Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban, says; “Today people look to technology as much more than a series of tools that can be used to complete certain tasks. In fact, for many people technology has become so integrated into every facet of their lives that it is viewed as a ‘lifeline’ that people feel they cannot live without – and content people are consuming through the use of technology affects their view of self. Essentially, people are looking to technology and the world around them to fill an internal void – and children are particularly sensitive to this as they are still very innocent and rely on feedback from the world around them to begin to form their view of self and the world.”

To protect children and encourage children to be safe when engaging on the Internet, Dr Harker indicates that it is important to:

  • Form a nurturing and trusting relationship (between parent/guardian and child/ward), by:
    • Teaching children self-awareness and self-acceptance
    • Teaching children mindfulness and to be fully present in the moment
    • Building children’s self-esteem
    • Encouraging open and honest communication as a priority in your home
    • Guide and support children to form an identity outside of technology, including:
    • Supporting children to connect to nature and friends – with no technology present
  • Teaching children to entertain themselves with no technology present
  • Teaching children to not compare themselves with others on social media
  • Encourage children to speak out about harmful content and predators they may come across online
  • Always set a good example by your own actions when using technology

Badenhorst says: “While schools are and will continue to play a key role in supporting the education of online safety, ultimately this is a task and duty that parents/guardians should be driving forward and taking very seriously. We do unfortunately have to accept that the Internet allows children to encounter content we never want them to see and while we know how difficult it is to sometimes talk about these concerns with children, if parents/guardians feel uncomfortable or not well equipped to do this, there are various resources available to support them and that they should look to leverage on.”

To help families protect children from various Internet threats, Kaspersky recommends:

  • If you know what your child is looking for online, you can offer help and support, and teach as you go about using the information carefully.
  • Discuss with your child how much time they can spend on social media, if they have social media accounts and teach them about what information is not okay to share online (school, where they live, contacts details etc.).
  • Try not to limit your child’s social circle online and teach them to take care when choosing friends and acquaintances. The same ‘stranger-danger’ principle applies in the online world.
  • Subscribe to the Family edition of our Kaspersky Security Cloud. The service incorporates Kaspersky Safe Kids and helps to guard your family and private data, plus protect your kids online and beyond.
  • For younger children, parents can seek guidance from  a book by Marlies Slegers called Kasper, Sky and the Green Bear – a short illustrated story for kids ages 6 to 9 (which are considered good ages to expand a child’s knowledge of online safety) that was written to be fun for kids to read and that can help them understand what is OK in the digital world and what is not: https://www.kaspersky.co.za/blog/kasper-sky-book/21974/

To learn more about the most common fears, threats, experiences, and tactics when it comes to Internet safety for children, click here to download the full report.


Methodology

Kaspersky conducted an international study of parents with 7 to 12-year-old children to explore trends, practices and challenges of keeping their kids safe online. Covering nearly 20 countries across each region of the globe, Kaspersky surveyed nearly 9,000 parents and explored how Internet enabled devices are being used at home, what are the biggest concerns when it comes to online security, and how parents are tackling them.

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