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SA on edge of business revolution

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The global business landscape is seeing many businesses digitise, largely due to the many ICT trends that are affecting businesses. As late adopters South African business stand to benefit immensely from these trends, writes Patrick Shield, CTO at Software AG.

Buzz phrases such as ‘enterprise digitisation’ are discussed among ICT and business industries alike with increasing frequency, but often hold little meaning to business decision makers who have historically left ICT initiatives to ICT-focussed departments. The global shift towards the digitisation of business, however, cannot be ignored by business leaders, and has become crucial to the survival of many organisations – with South African businesses being no exception.

“It’s vital for South Africa’s industry leaders to acknowledge that ICT and business objectives are no longer separate entities, and are in fact interdependent functions,” explains Patrick Shields, Chief Technology Officer at Software AG South Africa. Addressing delegates at the recent annual Software AG Innovation Day in Sandton, Shields explains: “The wall between ICT and business is slowly being broken down, and ICT is playing a far more active role in business than before. The importance of these departments collaborating closely cannot be underestimated, and all stakeholders need to be able to speak and understand the same language. Combining the value that both business and ICT jointly deliver, can lead to an exponential increase in an organisation’s effectiveness, agility and profitability.”

The global customer landscape is changing drastically, and quickly, and Shields explains that businesses need to adapt their offerings just as swiftly in order to remain relevant. “Currently, there are upwards of two billion internet users worldwide – seeing a third of the human population connected today,” he says. “Due to this, we are experiencing a 40% growth in data year on year, which is speeding up. This presents a significant opportunity for businesses that have poised themselves to access and harness this data. This is especially relevant for African enterprises that serve a continent of mobile enabled citizens and consumers”

Shields notes that the ability to ‘tap into’ data streams that describe customer and citizen behaviour presents unique opportunities to identify patterns, then program their existing systems to automatically respond to a range of ‘time sensitive’ scenarios. “This can have a profound effect on functions such customer service, internal processes, faster response to structural and legislative changes, and the identification and resolution of problems, among many other benefits. Digitising these functions means that they will be faster and more effective, but at a lower operating costs.”

According to Shields, about 75% of businesses who are embracing the digital change fall within the conventional industry categories – such as financial services, manufacturing and logistics. These enterprises are taking the first steps of digitisation by changing from ‘paper based’ processes to automated business processes.

While the digital business trend has entrenched itself quite thoroughly in the world’s leading economies, South African businesses are relatively late adopters to this new approach, as South African businesses in general are appreciative of the risks involved. “The current economic challenges presented to South Africa’s organisations means that decision makers have a healthy apprehension when looking at projects without a thorough understanding of how it will work, as well as a thorough understanding and proof of the potential business value. South African decision makers do not want to invest time and resources into just another tool that sits on the shelf in their organisation, so it is crucial for software solution providers to prove value upfront, rather than promise the sky through convoluted sales-speak.”

“That being said, being late adopters to digital business puts South Africa in the beneficial position of being able to learn from the lessons of pioneers, who have already experienced a range of trials, errors, and successes which have led to optimised performance of software solutions,” Shields continues. “One of the most crucial takeaways for business decision makers is that digitising business in no way requires an expensive overhaul of existing systems in order to be implemented. Proper digitisation should not mandate a ‘Rip and Replace’ approach” he says. “Many organisations have already invested large amounts of time and money into creating and tailoring their existing systems, which are often thoroughly customised and carried large set-up costs. Rather than ripping and replacing expensive legacy systems and technology, our approach is to ‘wrap and re-use’ existing systems at a fraction of the cost, so that they remain and continue to function as designed, but are linked through a customisable integration layer.”

Shields explains that this integration layer, as seen in the word’s first Digital Business Platform, which was recently launched by Software AG in South Africa, connects existing systems to a central point of monitoring and management; is agile, allowing enterprises to quickly automate any form of business process, and gain real-time operational visibility through simple, practical dashboards.”

“Digital change is disrupting traditional business models like never before. The updating and evolving of processes that needs to take place within companies to address the ‘big change’ will define how these organisations will fare in the future,” he notes. “Essentially, the digitisation of business is a race – and companies need to keep ahead of the competition in order to survive and capitalize on the digital revolution. This is the compelling reason why companies should embrace digital change – either leverage its opportunities and take full advantage of the significant benefits it offers to your organisation, or get left behind and potentially face ‘business irrelevance’ or ‘technological extinction’ within the markets, customers and citizens that you serve,” concludes Shields.

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YouTube Music announces Smart Downloads, SA playlists

The service has introduced Smart Downloads which takes allowing users to store and play hundreds of tunes offline, automatically.

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The latest updates from YouTube Music, for subscribers of its Music Premium and Premium services, include a new feature that allows users to switch seamlessly between a song and its music video for an uninterrupted experience.

It has also introduced Smart Downloads which takes the work out of downloading music, allowing users to store and play hundreds of tunes offline, automatically. YouTube Music has also announced new playlists for South Africa. 

The updates all reflect features that are popular on the global leader in music streaming, Spotify, and that have been key to its growth.

YouTube said in a statement on Friday: “Imagine listening to a new track by your favourite artist in the YouTube Music app and having the ability to seamlessly switch over to watch the music video – no pauses, no interruptions, just a simple tap that keeps the music flowing. This standout new feature from YouTube Music allows YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium subscribers to make a seamless transition between a song and its music video for uninterrupted listening and/or watching. Whether you’re in the mood for listening or watching (or a little of both)… it’s all here – no app switching required.”

With Smart Downloads, YouTube Music automatically saves music at night, when connected to Wi-Fi, helping subscribers to use less mobile data, enjoy a smoother updating experience and save up to 500 songs offline using Liked Songs playlist as well as other playlists and albums. 


Previously, music lovers could use the Offline Mixtape feature to download up to 100 songs, specifically chosen for them based on what they listened to most on the platform. Now, with Smart Downloads, they select the number of songs they would like automatically downloaded by toggling their YouTube Music Settings. This means YouTube Music Premium subscribers with Smart Downloads enabled on their mobile devices can now access hundreds of tracks regardless of connectivity. 

This feature is currently available on Android, with plans to bring it to iOS in the future.

Click here to read more about YouTube Music playlists, and find out what is inside them.

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Make cars, not waste

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Jaguar Land Rover is trialling an innovative recycling process which converts plastic waste into a new premium grade material that could feature on future vehicles. 

It’s estimated that the amount of waste plastic is predicted to exceed 12 million tonnes globally by 2050*. Today, not all of this plastic can be recycled for use in automotive applications – especially in vehicle parts that are required to meet the most exacting safety and quality standards.

Working in conjunction with chemical company, BASF, Jaguar Land Rover is part of a pilot project called ChemCycling that upcycles domestic waste plastic, otherwise destined for landfill or incinerators, into a new high-quality material. 

The waste plastic is transformed to pyrolysis oil using a thermochemical process. This secondary raw material is then fed into BASF’s production chain as a replacement for fossil resources; ultimately producing a new premium grade that replicates the high quality and performance of ‘virgin’ plastics. Importantly, it can be tempered and coloured making it the ideal sustainable solution for designing the next-generation dashboards and exterior-surfaces in Jaguar and Land Rover models.

Jaguar Land Rover and BASF are currently testing the pilot phase material in a Jaguar I-PACE prototype front-end carrier overmoulding to verify it meets the same stringent safety requirements of the existing original part.

Pending the outcome of the trials and progression in taking chemical recycling to market readiness, adoption of the new premium material would mean Jaguar Land Rover could use domestically derived recycled plastic content throughout its cars without any compromise to quality or safety performance**. 

Chris Brown, Senior Sustainability Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “Plastics are vital to car manufacturing and have proven benefits during their use phase, however, plastic waste remains a major global challenge. Solving this issue requires innovation and joined-up thinking between regulators, manufacturers and suppliers.

“At Jaguar Land Rover, we are proactively increasing recycled content in our products, removing single-use plastics across our operations and reducing excess waste across the product lifecycle. The collaboration with BASF is just one way in which we are advancing our commitment to operating in a circular economy.”

This is the latest example of Jaguar Land Rover’s commitment to addressing the challenge of waste plastic. The company has collaborated with Kvadrat to offer customers alternative seat options that are both luxurious and sustainable. The high-quality material, available initially on the Range Rover Velar and Range Rover Evoque, combines a durable wool blend with a technical suedecloth that is made from 53 recycled plastic bottles per vehicle. 

Jaguar Land Rover has already met its 2020 target for Zero Waste to Landfill for UK operations. This includes the removal of 1.3 million m2 – equal to 187 football pitches – of plastic from its manufacturing lineside and replacing 14 million single use plastic items in business operations. 

Together, these efforts are driving towards Jaguar Land Rover’s vision for Destination Zero; an ambition to make societies safer and healthier, and the environment cleaner. Delivered through relentless innovation to adapt its products and services to the rapidly-changing world, the company’s focus is on achieving a future of zero emissions, zero accidents and zero congestion.

Editor’s notes:

https://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/7/e1700782.full

** All Jaguar and Land Rover vehicles tested have achieved a Euro NCAP 5* rating.

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