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Small biz in danger of being left behind by tech

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New research reveals South African small businesses are at risk of being left behind if they don’t adopt new technologies.

The research from accounting software firm Xero, conducted in partnership with World Wide Worx (WWW) shows that over half (52%) of small businesses admit that they are only just keeping up with technology adoption, while a further 45% acknowledge that they could be doing more.

The research, represents the opinions of 400 small business owners and the findings reveal many small businesses are still holding on to old technologies – a large portion (83%) of the businesses questioned are still using Excel spreadsheets, while almost three quarters (73%) are still printing invoices. This demonstrates a distinct lack of awareness concerning the benefits that newer technology can bring.

While small businesses are open to new technologies, the findings demonstrate that poor internet connectivity holds them back. Almost half (41%) of entrepreneurs cited maintaining a stable connection in their workplace as a key challenge.

The research reveals that the portion of small businesses that already use new technologies like the cloud (44%), report significant benefits. Of those that use cloud technology, 70% say the main benefit is time savings – with almost half (48%) stating to have claimed back more than ten hours per week. A further 52% also assert that cloud technology has saved them money.

Speaking of the results, Colin Timmis, South Africa Head of Accounting, Xero comments: “With economic volatility, it’s been an uncertain time for South Africa’s small business community. The entrepreneurs surveyed in our report demonstrate a strong awareness of the new tools available to them, and many are actively working to incorporate them into day-to-day working life. While it’s certainly encouraging that 58% of SMEs included cloud technology it in their business plans for the coming year, failing to adopt the right technologies, risks them being left behind.”

It is significant given that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) currently comprise 91% of businesses in South Africa, and employ 60% of the country’s labour force – contributing 36% of the overall GDP, according to The Banking Association South Africa.

Other key findings from the research reveal:

  • 63% of businesses admit that reviewing their existing technology setup is a high or medium priority.
  • Excel spreadsheets are predominantly used for accounting (68%), office management (56%), and financial planning (49%).
  • Poor or unreliable connectivity is a bugbear for many businesses: 66% indicate severe issues for 1-3 days every month, and 29% struggle for 5-10 days.
  • The main consequences of poor internet connectivity are lost time (56%) and frustrated employees (26%).

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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