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How to take a stake in the subscription economy

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By JIM HOLLAND, country head at Lenovo Data Centre Group (DCG) South Africa

Remember the days when you owned records, DVDs, cars, property? For many today in their personal lives, real ownership is such a distant concept it’s almost viewed with a sense of nostalgia. In the current subscription economy, consumers only want to pay for what they use – and it’s no different in the world of IT.

As new technology and innovations continue to transform our world – seemingly making everything simpler, more personalised and faster – significant disruptions occur in virtually every aspect of our lives. Ever since the Cloud drifted into the IT skies, expectations of how critical infrastructure can be accessed and consumed has shifted.

Public cloud has enabled more choice, lowered risk and increased flexibility for end users. But in this new landscape, service providers are seeking new ways to maintain their rapidly diminishing margins and apply the pillars of the subscription economy to their IT solutions.

If IT were public transport

Let’s look at IT needs through the lens of public transport. Big city dwellers likely rely more on mass transportation to get to and from work every day, compared to suburban or small-town workers. Chances are they don’t have (or simply don’t use) a car on a daily basis, but instead rely on subways, buses and trains to get around the city or rental cars for longer trips. In this situation, owning a car – and paying for fuel, parking, insurance and maintenance for a vehicle that sits in the garage – just doesn’t make sense. Conversely, public transport options, while potentially more cost-effective, leave commuters subject to overcrowding, unforeseen delays, and cleanliness.

And for years, those were the options. Own a car and deal with the implications, or rely on public transport and deal with the implications. That was until car-sharing and ride-sharing apps became pervasive. Now, people could have a viable alternative to owning a car and relying on public transport that yielded the best of both worlds.

With more options available than ever before, the “city dweller” IT customer with occasional or fluctuating needs doesn’t want to invest up front in IT hardware that they may not immediately capitalise on. They only want to pay for what they consume – and not a megabyte more.

Join the subscription-based IT revolution

These consumption patterns are shifting in all industries all over the world, from the music industry becoming reliant on streaming services like Spotify to Porsche offering monthly subscriptions that allow the user access to any Porsche they want to drive on any given day.

But this subscription-based model that permeates our personal lives has yet to be truly applied it to a business environment. Some vendors have offerings claim to be Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) but are really just modified leasing constructs with high minimum capacity commitments, extended terms and heavy services requirements. Some of these offerings only apply to a select portion of the product portfolio.

That all changes with the launch of Lenovo TruScale Infrastructure Services, which provides our partners – resellers, VARs and distributors – with a ‘pay-for-what-you-use data centre’ service. Customers use and pay for hardware, software solutions and services on-premise or at a customer-preferred location without having to purchase the equipment.

This versatile, flexible, simple take on procuring IT resources via a consumption-based, subscription model ensures customers never take capital ownership of hardware or other IT assets, and only pay for what they use each month as part of their operating expenses. Monthly pricing structures are simple and all-inclusive of associated services, such as maintenance, support, remote monitoring, and system health, in one bill.

Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) conventionally refers to public cloud offerings. But Lenovo TruScale, which is unique in being a true consumption-based model with no required minimum capacity commitment, offers end users the pricing flexibility of public cloud services, while getting the benefit of all assets, including data, remaining on-premises. The offering can be applied to any configuration that meets the customer’s needs – whether storage-rich, server-heavy, hyperconverged or high-performance compute – and can be scaled as business dictates.

Businesses can, therefore, take full control of their environment and security policy, while enjoying optimal levels of data integrity and sovereignty, data being encrypted and safeguarded according to their defined policies, and lightning-fast speed data transfers.

Open channels of communication

Lenovo TruScale provides our partners with an excellent opportunity to win new accounts, while the evolving nature of the offering keeps communication channels open throughout the entire contract. This will help partners to foster stronger relationships with the end user, ensuring they’re doing everything they can to meet that customer’s specific needs and become invaluable to the organisation.

They can now offer customers a consumption-based subscription offering without needing to craft their own technical solution, back-office system investment, hold title to the Assets, or take on any incremental financial risk. Partners can position Lenovo TruScale whenever there is a stated need or desire by the end customer, while also continuing to position traditional CapEx offerings.

At Lenovo, we understand that the world is on its way towards a widespread subscription economy and believe it’s time to begin applying this to businesses’ IT approach. As organisations increasingly embrace a subscription business model we’ll see them owning less and borrowing more. The industry needs to prioritise services that enable customers to reap the benefits of this changing world, rather than sticking to convention for the sole reason that “it’s always been done that way.”

Ownership needs to disappear when it is no longer the most suitable option. We see this thinking taking off in other industries, and we strongly believe that it makes sense here too.

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Gaming gets rad at Rand Show

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With the opening of the 125th Rand Show at Nasrec, south of Johannesburg, today, gamers and cosplayers have a new destination to strut their stuff.

A new addition to the show, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion, is offering anything from gaming and cosplay to dance-offs and  science displays.

The organisers provided the following information (although several million exclamation marks and exaggerations have been removed!):

Fortnite Tournament

There was a time when Gaming was a considered a solitary pastime, confined to single player consoles; but that truly is a thing of the past with a fully immersive Fortnite Tournament open to all Fortnite afficionados and even those just starting out. Players can battle it out over both show weekends, including a final on each weekend. Family fan clubs can also get in on the action with live broadcasts of the game as it happens across screens – a full-on Fortnite family affair. Sponsored by PlayStation, gamers are truly going to be spoiled and should get in on the action as fast as they can because R 100 000 in cash prizes is up for grabs.

Smart Technology Centre will deliver a super-fast FibreMAX 500Mbps fibre link, wholly dedicated to the gaming pavilion to ensure that absolutely nothing ruins the thrill of the National Fortnite Tournament. 

“As the exclusive connectivity provider, we have gone all out to ensure an amazing experience for gamers,” says Dillynn Els of Smart Technology Centre (STC), an internet service provider (ISP) and IT technology partner. “When it comes to gaming and the best experience possible, it’s all about ensuring we provide a dedicated, uncapped, unshaped connection that makes every second count.”

Keen players can come along and enter on the day, but don’t delay because space is limited.

Fortnite Inspired Dance Off

Visitors can come along and be entertained by the finalists in the Fortnite inspired dance-off. There will be daily dances to enjoy for the entire duration of the show.

Come and play – Cosplay, to be exact.

The stage is set for a celebration of creativity and imagination that is going to be literally out of this world. Super hero heavy weights and masters of the mysterious will be letting their creative vision loose and take part in various Cosplay Tournaments and a visually stunning Cosplay Masquerade. Come see what all the fuss is about and get lost in this world costumes, colour and creative talent.

Games, Games and Science

For those wanting to get their gaming on, there will be three free play areas sponsored by Xbox with a host of games available to play. Xbox will be giving away 3 Xbox 1’s and an awesome Xbox 1X, but you truly have to be in it to win it, so make sure you don’t miss out.

The Kalahari Scientist will be onstage delighting visitors with his explosive displays that are guaranteed to up the ooh and aah factor with audiences young and old.

But wait, there’s more

Along with the larger-than-life gaming entertainment offering, visitors will also get to be the first gamers on SA soil to get a sneak peak of PlayStation’s brand new Mortal Kombat 11. Don’t miss your chance to experience the continuation of this epic saga through a new cinematic story that is more than 25 years in the making. The iconic showcasing brutal battles like never before, along with a host of customisable fighters with enhanced graphics and animations.

Other activities at the Pavilion include VR Experiences, a full-on NAG Nerf Arena, Gaming vendors with awesome gaming content, retailers selling gaming related products and software, and tutorials and workshops on how to improve your gaming skills, Celebrity Fortnite match off for charity.

With huge sponsors such as PlayStation, Xbox, MMS, NAG, SABC 2 and Smart Technology, the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion is geared up to become a hot zone of entertainment.

Win big

In case the entertainment offering just doesn’t get the heart beats racing fast enough, an all-expenses paid trip to TwitchCon USA, sponsored by PlayStation, in conjunction with 94.7 Highveld Stereo, is waiting for one lucky visitor to grab it. Every ticket purchased into the Entertainment Gaming Pavilion qualifies as an entry, so bring the whole family along for the ride.

Tickets to the Gaming Entertainment Pavilion can be purchased at the show for R 20 which gives the ticket holder access for  two hours.

The pavilion will be open from 14h00 to 19h00 weekdays and 10h00 to 19h00 on weekends from 19 to 28 April 2019.

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Riaad Moosa show debuts on Vodacom Video Play

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Riaad Moosa’s comedy special, Life Begins, will be the first major local title to be released on Vodacom’s video-on-demand service, Video Play.

As an award-winning comedian, actor, writer and presenter, Riaad Moosa is one of South Africa’s most renowned funny men. His one-man show is available for download on the platform from today, 26 April 2019. Life Begins is rated PG-16L

Vodacom’s says its affordable video-on-demand service, Video Play, has had an incredible uptake since its launch in August 2018, with over 2-million subscribers. 

“But with a proliferation of affordable video-on-demand platforms available to the South African market, what is it that gives Video Play the competitive edge?” it asked in a release this week. “Recognising the consumer’s need for flexibility and freedom of choice, Vodacom has ingeniously developed an adaptable subscription model that puts the power in consumers’ hands. Forget being tied down to a monthly subscription. Video Play gives consumers the liberty of choosing a daily, weekend or even monthly package. 

“Blockbuster movies can even be viewed for a once off cost, without subscription. Furthermore, these bundles can be purchased according to niche categories and genres, from Bollywood movies to gospel music.”

Consumers are able to pay for movies and series by using their airtime or adding it to their bill, eliminating the need for a credit card. Subscribers are also able to purchase video-specific data at a fraction of the regular price to consume constant content without overspending. Daily subscriptions start from R5 a day.

Zunaid Mahomed, Group Digital and Fixed Services Officer, says: “Video Play has enabled the company to provide a seamless and enjoyable customer experience. With the addition of Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins, we’re excited to offer consumers even more quality content and a wider variety of entertainment on demand than ever before. We’re putting quality entertainment, into the hands of anyone with a mobile device and an internet connection.”

Riaad Moosa describes his show as “very philosophical and existential”.

“It involves the normal issues of getting older while at the same time experiencing, at a maturity where I’m supposed to be wise, a world that is completely turned on its head.  It’s about how I negotiate all these things happening around me while trying to maintain a positive attitude. Through my comedic lens, I hope to put a different spin on that and hopefully I can enter my next 40 years with renewed vigour and excitement.”

To access Riaad Moosa’s Life Begins comedy special, register for Video via the Video Play website (www.videoplay.co.za).

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