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SIMs get SME-friendly

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SIM cards have become a way of life for the digital citizens of today. These tiny components are integral to staying connected. For SMEs, where cost efficiencies are essential, managing SIMs have never been more important. KEES SNIJDERS, MD of Flickswitch, takes a closer look.

SIMs extend beyond just data and voice billing in the devices of employees. They play an essential role in machine to machine (M2M) communication. Forming part of the Internet of Things, M2M enables systems to communicate with other devices anywhere in the world.

Multi-device connectivity

This means that organisations can have multiple connected devices that transmit large amounts of data back into the corporate back-end. So what happens if there is an error on the SIM embedded in one of these devices or there is no air-time to send the information back to head office? In a world where deliverables are measured in hours (sometimes minutes), the business impact could be severe.

He says M2M applications extend into all vertical industries so business owners cannot afford to rest on their laurels. From a smart meter in a home to a vehicle tracking device, there are very few aspects in our lives that are not affected by SIMs.

And while these are consumer examples, consider the potential for enterprise-level systems. Already, there are specialised applications in the utility infrastructure leveraging M2M. Take waterworks as an example. SIMs play a crucial role in sending information on dam levels and water and gate flow to municipalities. Without having these remote systems in place, the process not only slows down but it greatly increases the risk of error that can have life or death repercussions.

SME appeal

Until recently, M2M has been something that was left to large businesses. But thanks to the evolution of technology, even smaller companies can start benefiting from such systems. Unfortunately, SMEs have been held captive by not being aware of the alternative solutions out there.

SMEs have unique challenges and requirements. From an affordability perspective, they cannot use providers who assist the likes of large tracking companies or mining houses. Instead, they need a niche services provider they can trust and is capable of understanding their business to provide them with a SIM management and control solution that fits their organisation.

Not only should such a service provider help manage employee SIMs (smartphones and tablets), but it should also be able to provide assistance outside the pockets of users. Unlike the majority of the European and United States markets, the connectivity of SIMs (especially in M2M) in Africa need to be managed on a prepaid basis.

An African approach

We have seen the local SME M2M market predominantly being on prepaid. In addition, when one looks at the rest of Africa, statistics show that almost 98 percent of the market is relying on prepaid SIMs. This presents a massive opportunity for an experienced service provider such as ourselves, to work closely with SMEs and implement bespoke solutions fitting their focus areas.

Part of a SIM management approach needs to be reliable and real-time monitoring of SIMs in the field. These devices should communicate when they need to be topped up with data irrespective of time or location. Secure M2M communication is also vital. An SME therefore needs a full service partner that is capable of managing all aspects of this journey in order for the business owner to focus on the core operational strategy.

We have seen that if SMEs want to take ownership of this problem, they run into difficulties – both in terms of funds and in terms of human resources required to manage all aspects of the SIM lifecycle. By removing the elements of uncertainty around SIM management, our clients can rest easy in the knowledge that this integral element is taken care of.

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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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