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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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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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