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Prepare to go predictive

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In our current digital age, insights into AI applications like machine learning can help businesses deliver ‘big value’ from their data. With this innovation, are South African businesses optimising their data resources, asks FRANS CRONJE.

In our current digital age, insights into Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications like machine learning can help businesses target the right customers and deliver ‘big value’ from their data. With this innovation at our fingertips the question arises, are South African businesses optimising their data resources?

It is important to consider why companies started collecting data.

Historically, data has been collected to report back upon either for legal requirements such as fulfilling Audit requirements, or for their own internal monitoring purposes. This legacy still influences many companies in what data they collect and how they store it. The result is that much of the data held by companies is not ready for predictive modelling and machine learning.

Subsequently, it should not be surprising that much of the innovation in predictive analytics and machine learning is driven from younger companies that were built when cell phones, laptops and easy access to the internet were commonplace.

An important consideration when it comes to data is the wide range of opportunities it enables, particularly for service-related industries which can use it to identify consumer preferences and, in turn, help in detecting where products or services can be improved. Almost every industry can benefit from compiling and building data from the education, transportation and consumer products sectors, to businesses in electricity, oil and gas, healthcare and consumer finance like banking and insurance.

Ultimately, instead of relying on intuition, companies who handle their data correctly can embrace predictive decision-making approaches, which – when coupled with automation – can provide cost savings as well as profit gains.

So how can businesses get the most out of their data? Considering data from the predictive point of view can help businesses realise how to improve their data management. When taking this perspective, it is easy to identify the veracity of system log data is really valuable or overwriting data to provide a current snapshot of the data can mean the data is no longer valuable for predictive modelling.

The problem and solution should take the company’s unique environment and challenges into account. How fast does a result need to be returned, where does the data arrive from and at what frequency?

We prefer co-location modes of consulting with our clients which helps us understand each client’s domain and allows us to create a solution that can be delivered relatively quickly through a small team.

In terms of whether or not such capabilities can – or should – be out-sourced or developed internally, many organisations simply do not have the internal skills to implement machine learning applications. However, there have been developments locally to address this gap.

DataProphet is one of several collaborators involved in the design of the Postgraduate Diploma in Data Analytics and Business Intelligence which will be offered by the Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences at the University of the Western Cape from January 2017.

  • Frans Cronje, Managing Director for DataProphet.

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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Street art goes electric

Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.

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The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.

The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.

D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.

D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.

“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”

As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”

Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”

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