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SA’s Vizibiliti conquers US

A South African app was selected recently for showcasing at one of the largest technology conferences in the world.

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Viva Tech attracts more than 66 000 people and over 200 speakers, including the CEOs of Facebook, Microsoft, IBM, and Uber, along with brands like LMVH, Verizon, and SoftBank.

Verizon selected Vizibiliti Insight as the overall winner of the Customer Experience Transformation through Digital challenge, after it had been shortlisted from 110 entries in the alternative credit scoring category.

“This is a significant milestone for us and a huge honour to have been selected out of a pool of such strong competitors, many of whom have received millions of dollars in funding,” said Courtney Bentley, CEO of Vizibiliti Insight.

Aside from winning a presentation slot at Viva Tech 2018, Vizibiliti Insight was also invited to Verizon’s New York office to collaborate with some of the top minds in the telecommunications world. Part of the first prize award was 5 000 Euros and membership credits to Verizon’s Innovation Garage offices located across the United States, in effect allowing them to open an office in New York.

Vizibiliti Insight’s alternative scoring solution enables any credit provider to provide credit safely for difficult-to-analyse customers who otherwise would be turned down for credit. Vizibiliti is also working on specialised credit scoring solutions for South African entrepreneurs often considered too high-risk for banks and other credit providers to lend to.

The aim is to support credit worthiness applications for these businesses and individuals who, although contributing to over 40% of South Africa’s GDP, would be declined without further consideration.

Asked what has differentiated it from competitors in the challenge, Bentley pointed out that its models incorporate traditional scorecards, which remain the current de facto standard. 

“This is significant because we can align the alternative credit scoring models with traditional scorecards which have a proven accuracy rate.  This further allows granular customer segmentation and predictive capabilities in predicting which applications have a high likelihood of converting to a loan being accepted with a low likelihood of default.”

But it goes further, venturing into non-traditional measures.

“We are able to incorporate transactional behaviour which would be all the financial information collected on customers. This would be everything from data usage, SIM card age, location, and demographic data, to spending patterns . We then factor in macro and micro variables impacting affordability and, finally, behavioural data which we collect, analyse and add into this model.”

So far, he says, the system has achieved an 89% accuracy rate of detecting high-risk in customers using Vizibiliti’s own proprietary scorecard. 

“The next unique factor is our ability to determine upsell and cross-sell opportunities, which in turn lead to more sales and overall growth for the enterprise. Not only do we alternatively score an individual or business but we can then predict which non-traditional customer segments are likely to accept and pay back products and services which have been recommended.”

Bentley says the American judges had a scorecard of criteria which included how scalable the business is, whether the solution can be fully customised to the US market, whether the business model is sustainable over the long-term, and whether the solution supports digital authentication. 

“I believe that our capabilities to create a fully customised bespoke solution with a cross and up-sell sales capability and being able to rapidly scale, not only in the US but globally, were key factors in our success.”

 Alternative scoring, says Bentley, is important because “many of the companies we have come across have an average decline rate of 40% sometimes more on credit submissions”. 

“We have done a lot with very little compared to our competitors who have millions of dollars in funding. We have heard that these international companies are interested to see what can be done on their own turf with a company that can deliver value quickly, with innovative ways of keeping costs to a minimum.”

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Dell plans 50/50 gender split; 1:1 recycling and reuse

Dell Technologies has unveiled an ambitious 2030 target for a social impact plan called Progress Made Real.

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Dell Technologies has declared a decade of responsibility and innovation to ramp up the company’s social impact worldwide. At the company’s Dell Technologies Summit in Austin, Texas, last week, chairman and CEO Michael Dell unveiled a set of ambitious goals in a plan called 2030 Progress Made Real.

“Unlocking the power of data will advance humanity more than any other force over the next decade,” said Dell. “We are committed to making that power broadly available to communities around the world, so we can all move forward together.”

Over the next decade, he said, Dell Technologies will use its global scale, broad technology portfolio and expertise to yield meaningful and measurable impact on society and the planet. 

The plan sets the following goals for the company:

Advance sustainability 

·        Recycle an equivalent product for every product a customer buys

·        Lead the circular economy with more than half of all product content being made from recycled or renewable material 

·        Use 100% recycled or renewable material in all packaging 

·        Deliver future-ready skills development for workers in their supply chain

·        Drive a comprehensive science-based climate program, setting emissions goals across facilities, supply chain and operations to customer use of our products including partnering with suppliers to meet a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 60% per unit revenue by 2030

Cultivate inclusion

·        Acquire, develop and retain women so they account for 50% of the company’s global workforce and 40% of global people managers

·        Acquire, develop and retain black/African American and Hispanic team members so they account for 25% of the company’s U.S. workforce and 15% of U.S. people managers 

·        Educate 95% of all team members on an annual basis about unconscious bias, harassment, micro-aggressions and privilege 

Transform lives

·        Advance the health, education and economic opportunity of 1 billion people

·        Digitally transform 1,000 nonprofit organisations

·        Achieve 75% team member participation in charitable giving and volunteerism in communities

The company says ethics and privacy are foundational to its corporate and social impact strategies and are essential to executing the 2030 goals. To this end, it is fully automating data control processes, making it easier for customers to access, delete or share their personal data. The company will use digital tools to make it easier to get insights from, measure and monitor compliance issues using digital data. 

In addition to seeking customer input, Dell Technologies engaged third parties, considered the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, and surveyed team members to assess the most critical issues and opportunities they see in their work and the world.

“We have a great responsibility to apply the full power of Dell Technologies to transform lives and society,” said Karen Quintos, chief customer officer at Dell Technologies. “By combining our technology portfolio, global scale, team member talent and customer partnerships, we can drive significant positive impact. Our 2030 agenda is comprehensive and deeply embedded across the business. The moonshot goals stretch us to go far beyond incremental change. In some cases, we’re still working to uncover how we’ll get there – but we know that significant change and innovation starts with deep commitment.”

In June 2019, Dell Technologies announced early completion of many of its 2020 goals. For example, through a global recycling network, it reached a 2020 goal of recycling 2-billion pounds of used electronics.  Through partnerships with the Government of India and Tata Trusts, it deployed a cloud-based analytics solution to deliver preventive healthcare to remote villages, reaching 11 million people who would otherwise not have these services. A range of additional social impact goals have also been reached (see graphic below)

* For the full list of 2030 goals, see delltechnologies.com/2030goals

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Behind the scenes of Netflix SA’s Queen Sono

South Africa’s first Netflix Original TV show, Queen Sono, is almost ready to air. Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER spoke to the show’s creators on set.

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In the heart of Johannesburg, a house is about to make history as one of the first homes to have a South African Netflix Original filmed inside. During filming, it’s surrounded by a dozen large trucks that carry props, camera equipment, set equipment and equipment needed to make this production a reality. 

We chatted with Queen Sono’s writer, director, and showrunner, Kagiso Lediga, on set recently. He also heads up Diprente, the Johannesburg-based production company behind the show.

“[Being writer and director] gives one the ability to carry out the vision,” says Lediga. “I mean, it’s not just that I’m wearing many hats. But there’s the other creators, other HODs: from production designer to cinematographer, to the other writers that I work with. So it’s great, I guess that being a showrunner you kind of have to touch on all of those.

“It’s a huge responsibility in terms of carrying out the narrative. You know, sometimes what’s great is when you come up with an idea, and then when you see it when, either you’re sitting behind the monitor, directing, or while you’re sitting and editing, and you’re like ‘Whoa, that’s exactly how we imagined it’.”

The show is an action-packed series that follows Queen Sono, a highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life.

Of course, the gravity of being a Netflix Original means that Queen Sono will be put on a global stage, and will be available to stream in over 40 countries. We asked the show’s Director of Photography, Motheo Moeng, how the show’s image has been carefully crafted for a local and global audience.

“Overall, the treatment of the show is based on the characters we have written, naturally, and other spy films that we have looked at,” says Moeng. “So the treatment of her visually, and the look to the show visually, had that in mind. So as much as you wanted to treat it as an African show, we were well aware that it had to have international appeal.”

It’s also dangerous work getting the show to be perfect, Moeng says.

“It’s like being in a boxing ring, so there are days when you’re getting punched, there are days when you have to stand up and go. But overall, I guess the banter between myself and the first aiders is interesting. Our jobs are a direct contrast to each other; I’m trying to constantly light and make things look pretty, and he has to make sure we make the day, so if you stick around for long enough, you’ll see the love-hate relationship between us.”

Stunt Coordinators Grant Powell and Filip-Ciprian ‘Chip’ Florian have us a quick insight into how to get the actors (and film crew) ready for a spy movie’s action.

“[Most productions] have the same demands because they all have the same elements,” says Powell. “It doesn’t matter how big the movie, they’re still an actor. An actor still has to be trained. I still have to deal with the psychology of that. Convincing them that they can do it. So it really doesn’t matter the scale of the film, you’re still dealing with the same elements, which is training an actor from scratch sometimes.

“There was a combat scene with Queen Sono and the baddies, and she kicks one of them out the window, which is Chip by the way. So he goes through plate glass, goes over the balcony, three stories up and lands on a car. I thought that was cool. We had three weeks prep, which is great for a local show. You never get that, you’re usually learning on the day. That’s why the audience will instantly see the quality will be better because of this preparation. That’s what’s going to make this show stand out over and above anything that’s ever been done locally.”

Queen Sono is expected to be released exclusively on Netflix in 2020.

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