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Shyft named App of the Year

Shyft has been named overall winner of this year’s MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

Shyft was created for Standard Bank to allow customers to handle all their forex needs from their phone, with no need to visit the bank. Customers are able to purchase and store forex (USD, GBP, EUR, AUSD), transfer funds overseas, order multi-currency physical travel cards, and create virtual cards that can be used for international online shopping, all from a mobile device.

The MTN Business App of the Year Awards sees both small businesses and large corporates converging, and working together for the greater good of society.  It also sees revolutionary solutions being developed and presented by people from a diverse range of socio-economic backgrounds.  It’s all about connecting people who can provide real solutions to the real-life challenges cutting across society.

Category winners were:

  • Best Enterprise Solution: TransUnion 1Check

For years, TransUnion’s printed Autodealer Guide has been a trusted source of vehicle and driver information for vehicle dealers, equipping them with invaluable data for making vehicle trading and risk decisions. However, given the move towards mobile, escalating printing costs and the changing business environment, TransUnion identified a need in the market for a low cost, real-time, easy-to-use mobile management tool which not only reduced high printing costs, but closed the gap between fluctuating market values and monthly publishing lead time of their book. In addition, the software provides the financial industry and insurance providers with real time, up-to-date data for vehicle and insurance decisions via web services or via the app.

  • Best Consumer Solution: OrderIN

OrderIn is a food delivery app. Users are able to order meals via the app, and have their meals delivered in minutes. They can also order ahead and collect or pay in person.

  • Best Incubated Solution: EcoSlips

EcoSlips converts ordinary paper slips into digital advertisements that pop up on consumer cell phones. Retailers are able to link their point-of-sale systems to EcoSlips and send transaction slips digitally from any pay point to consumer cell phones. Paper slip waste is reduced and a new advertising platform provides opportunities to grow any business in the retail sector.

  • Most Innovative Solution: InterGreatMe

InterGreatMe is an identity management platform, providing users with control of their identities across financial services, telecomunications, insurance and credit providing companies. The platform also allows businesses to comply with FICA, RICA, NCA and POPI laws.

  • Best Breakthrough Developer: Zulzi

An on-demand delivery platform for anything around the consumer’s area. Zulzi is an online digital mall which links the consumer up with a personal shopper who will deliver to the customer within an hour. Lunch, dinner, groceries, pharmaceuticals or anything else can be ordered.

  • Best South African App: Hey Jude

Hey Jude is a real human assistant that lives on your smartphone. Whatever you need, Jude is there to assist you, be it booking restaurants, organising tradesmen or finding information – you name it, Hey Jude does it.

“As a leading telecommunications company, we are always mindful of how technology can foster entrepreneurship, drive economic growth and be leveraged as an enabler for myriad industries,” said Mandisa Ntloko, general manager of Enterprise Marketing at MTN Business SA.

“We are proud of the strides the initiative has made in profiling the winning apps and transforming them into thriving and sustainable businesses.”

This year, new categories were introduced in line with the evolving technology landscape. The inaugural winners and those recognised in these categories were:

‘Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM)’ Solution

Two apps and the women responsible for developing them were recognised in this category.

The ORU Social solution is a multi-purpose social network platform tailored for SMEs with great professional appeal. It allows users to make new connections, share videos and updates, advertise on the platform, and includes a feature to create groups.  There is also and on-line conferencing facility, and it allows a group to access the same presentations and videos, and more.

TouchSA is all about connecting SMEs with opportunities locally and internationally. With Trade and Industry alliances in international countries, the app is a great platform for South Africa’s small unknown businesses.

  • Best Gaming Solution: Pick ‘n Pay’s Super Animals 2

This solution allows users to meet the all new South African Super Animals, brought to you by Pick n Pay! Gamers can keep track of their South African Super Animals cards, unlock new badges and earn new rewards as their collections grow. Users can also watch the animals come to life with movement and sound. Fun for animal-lovers of any age.

  • Best Agriculture Solution: The TreeApp South Africa

Trees are a central component of virtually every ecological niche in our country, as well as being a life force in our cities and in our own gardens. But sadly, trees are not as easy to get to know as other natural species like birds and mammals. Botany is complicated, but TheTreeApp has found ways of utilising simple English and straight forward visible attributes that anyone can use as search criteria.

  • Best Health Solution: WatIf Health Portal

This portal is a new and inventive way of delivering healthcare to the man on the street. A disease management solution designed for ordinary people, it requires input of basic clinical data from patients, and then processes it through an interactive medical knowledge system that is a part of WatIf artificial intelligence.

  • Best Education Solution: Awethu Project

The Awethu Project App is a mobile business tool aimed at educating one million people in developing economies on how to start and grow a business.  The primary objective is to stimulate job creation through entrepreneurship.

  • Best Financial Solution: Shyft for Standard Bank

Named as the overall winner of the MTN Business App of the Year Awards.

This year more than 48 000 votes were cast in the People’s Choice category.  South Africa’s favourite app was named as Zulzi.

Since its inception, the MTN Business App of the Year Awards has profiled a number of apps that are commonly used today. These include SnapScan, the payment app that emerged as the overall winner in 2013; WumDrop, an on-demand delivery start-up that scooped the Best Enterprise App and was the Best Overall App in 2015; LIVE Inspect, the app that allows the insurance industry to digitally scan a vehicle’s disc to trace its full history, accident history, and overall condition before it is on-boarded by an insurance company; and last year’s winner, Domestly, an app that makes it easier to browse, book and pay a cleaner, in addition to enabling the cleaner to manage bookings, money and directions to bookings. Domestly created 600 sustainable jobs in the first six months of going live.

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Now IBM’s Watson joins IoT revolution in agriculture

Global expansion of the Watson Decision Platform taps into AI, weather and IoT data to boost production

IBM has announced the global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture, with AI technology tailored for new crops and specific regions to help feed a growing population. For the first time, IBM is providing a global agriculture solution that combines predictive technology with data from The Weather Company, an IBM Business, and IoT data to help give farmers around the world greater insights about planning, ploughing, planting, spraying and harvesting.

By 2050, the world will need to feed two billion more people without an increase in arable land [1]. IBM is combining power weather data – including historical, current and forecast data and weather prediction models from The Weather Company – with crop models to help improve yield forecast accuracy, generate value, and increase both farm production and profitability.

Roric Paulman, owner/operator of Paulman Farms in Southwest Nebraska, said: “As a farmer, the wild card is always weather. IBM overlays weather details with my own data and historical information to help me apply, verify, and make decisions. For example, our farm is in a highly restricted water basin, so the ability to better anticipate rain not only saves me money but also helps me save precious natural resources.”

New crop models include corn, wheat, soy, cotton, sorghum, barley, sugar cane and potato, with more coming soon. These models will now be available in the Africa, U.S. Canada, Mexico, and Brazil, as well as new markets across Europe and Australia.

Kristen Lauria, general manager of Watson Media and Weather Solutions at IBM, said: “These days farmers don’t just farm food, they also cultivate data – from drones flying over fields to smart irrigation systems, and IoT sensors affixed to combines, seeders, sprayers and other equipment. Most of the time, this data is left on the vine — never analysed or used to derive insights. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture aims to change that by offering tools and solutions to help growers make more informed decisions about their crops.” 

The average farm generates an estimated 500,000 data points per day, which will grow to 4 million data points by 2036 [2]. Applying AI and analysis to aggregated field, machine and environmental data can help improve shared insights between growers and enterprises across the agriculture ecosystem. With a better view of the fields, growers can see what’s working on certain farms and share best practices with other farmers. The platform assesses data in an electronic field record to identify and communicate crop management patterns and insights. Enterprise businesses such as food companies, grain processors, or produce distributors can then work with farmers to leverage those insights. It helps track crop yield as well as the environmental, weather and plant biologic conditions that go into a good or bad yield, such as irrigation management, pest and disease risk analysis and cohort analysis for comparing similar subsets of fields.

The result isn’t just more productive farmers. Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture could help a livestock company eliminate a certain mold or fungus from feed supply grains or help identify the best crop irrigation practices for farmers to use in drought-stricken areas like California. It could help deliver the perfect French fry for a fast food chain that needs longer – not fatter – potatoes from its network of growers. Or it could help a beer distributor produce a more affordable premium beer by growing higher quality barley that meets the standard required to become malting barley.

Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is built on IBM PAIRS Geoscope from IBM Research, which quickly processes massive, complex geospatial and time-based datasets collected by satellites, drones, aerial flights, millions of IoT sensors and weather models. It crunches large, complex data and creates insights quickly and easily so farmers and food companies can focus on growing crops for global communities.

IBM and The Weather Company help the agriculture industry find value in weather insights. IBM Research collaborates with start up Hello Tractor to integrate The Weather Company data, remote sensing data (e.g., satellite), and IoT data from tractors. IBM also works with crop nutrition leader Yara to include hyperlocal weather forecasts in its digital platform for real-time recommendations, tailored to specific fields or crops. IBM acquired The Weather Company in 2016 and has since been helping clients better understand and mitigate the cost of weather on their businesses. The global expansion of Watson Decision Platform for Agriculture is the latest innovation in IBM’s efforts to make weather a more predictable business consideration. Also just announced, Weather Signals is a new AI-based tool that merges The Weather Company data with a company’s own operations data to reveal how minor fluctuations in weather affects business.

The combination of rich weather forecast data from The Weather Company and IBM’s AI and Cloud technologies is designed to provide a unique capability, which is being leveraged by agriculture, energy and utility companies, airlines, retailers and many others to make informed business decisions.

[1] The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, “World Population Prospects: The 2017 Revision”

[2] Business Insider Intelligence, 2016 report: https://www.businessinsider.com/internet-of-things-smart-agriculture-2016-10


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What if Amazon used AI to take on factories?

By ANTONY BOURNE, IFS Global Industry Director for Manufacturing

Amazon recently announced record profits of $3.03bn, breaking its own record for the third consecutive time. However, Amazon appears to be at a crossroads as to where it heads next. Beyond pouring additional energy into Amazon Prime, many have wondered whether the company may decide to enter an entirely new sector such as manufacturing to drive future growth, after all, it seems a logical step for the company with its finger in so many pies.

At this point, it is unclear whether Amazon would truly ‘get its hands dirty’ by manufacturing its own products on a grand scale. But what if it did? It’s worth exploring this reality. What if Amazon did decide to move into manufacturing, a sector dominated by traditional firms and one that is yet to see an explosive tech rival enter? After all, many similarly positioned tech giants have stuck to providing data analytics services or consulting to these firms rather than genuinely engaging with and analysing manufacturing techniques directly.

If Amazon did factories

If Amazon decided to take a step into manufacturing, it is likely that they could use the Echo range as a template of what AI can achieve. In recent years,Amazon gained expertise on the way to designing its Echo home speaker range that features Alexa, an artificial intelligence and IoT-based digital assistant.Amazon could replicate a similar form with the deployment of AI and Industrial IoT (IIoT) to create an autonomously-run smart manufacturing plant. Such a plant could feature IIoT sensors to enable the machinery to be run remotely and self-aware; managing external inputs and outputs such as supply deliveries and the shipping of finished goods. Just-in-time logistics would remove the need for warehousing while other machines could be placed in charge of maintenance using AI and remote access. Through this, Amazon could radically reduce the need for human labour and interaction in manufacturing as the use of AI, IIoT and data analytics will leave only the human role for monitoring and strategic evaluation. Amazon has been using autonomous robots in their logistics and distribution centres since 2017. As demonstrated with the Echo range, this technology is available now, with the full capabilities of Blockchain and 5G soon to be realised and allowing an exponentially-increased amount of data to be received, processed and communicated.

Manufacturing with knowledge

Theorising what Amazon’s manufacturing debut would look like provides a stark learning opportunity for traditional manufacturers. After all, wheneverAmazon has entered the fray in other traditional industries such as retail and logistics, the sector has never remained the same again. The key takeaway for manufacturers is that now is the time to start leveraging the sort of technologies and approaches to data management that Amazon is already doing in its current operations. When thinking about how to implement AI and new technologies in existing environments, specific end-business goals and targets must be considered, or else the end result will fail to live up to the most optimistic of expectations. As with any target and goal, the more targeted your objectives, the more competitive and transformative your results. Once specific targets and deliverables have been considered, the resources and methods of implementation must also be considered. As Amazon did with early automation of their distribution and logistics centres, manufacturers need to implement change gradually and be focused on achieving small and incremental results that will generate wider momentum and the appetite to lead more expansive changes.

In implementing newer technologies, manufacturers need to bear in mind two fundamental aspects of implementation: software and hardware solutions. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software, which is increasingly bolstered by AI, will enable manufacturers to leverage the data from connected IoT devices, sensors, and automated systems from the factory floor and the wider business. ERP software will be the key to making strategic decisions and executing routine operational tasks more efficiently. This will allow manufacturers to keep on top of trends and deliver real-time forecasting and spot any potential problems before they impact the wider business.

As for the hardware, stock management drones and sensor-embedded hardware will be the eyes through which manufacturers view the impact emerging technologies bring to their operations. Unlike manual stock audits and counting, drones with AI capabilities can monitor stock intelligently around production so that operations are not disrupted or halted. Manufacturers will be able to see what is working, what is going wrong, and where there is potential for further improvement and change.

Knowledge for manufacturing

For many traditional manufacturers, they may see Amazon as a looming threat, and smart-factory technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA) as a far off utopia. However, 2019 presents a perfect opportunity for manufacturers themselves to really determine how the tech giants and emerging technologies will affect the industry. Technologies such as AI and IoT are available today; and the full benefits of these technologies will only deepen as they are implemented alongside the maturing of other emerging technologies such as 5G and Blockchain in the next 3-5 years. Manufacturers need to analyse the needs which these technologies can address and produce a proper plan on how to gradually implement these technologies to address specific targets and deliverables. AI-based software and hardware solutions will fundamentally revolutionise manufacturing, yet for 2019, manufacturers just have to be willing to make the first steps in modernisation.

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