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How to take a stake in the subscription economy



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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Cape Town not so calm – if you’re a driver

Cape Town drivers lose on average 162 hours a year to traffic jams, so will need some tech and a few tips to stay calm



Cape Town drivers lose, on average, 162 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, and the city is ranked 95th out of around 200 cities, across 38 countries surveyed globally, in terms of congestion issues.

That’s according to the latest INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, which is an annual analysis of mobility and congestion trends. The study provides a data-rich evaluation of information collected during peak (slowest) travel times, and inter peak (fastest point between morning and afternoon commutes) travel times. Together they provide a holistic account of congestion throughout the day, delivering in-depth insights for vehicle drivers and policy-makers to make better decisions regarding urban travel and traffic health.

Of the further five South African cities surveyed:

  • Pretoria drivers lose, on average, 143 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, ranking as the 64thmost congested city
  • Johannesburg drivers lose an average of 119 hours annually, ranking 61st
  • Durban drivers lose 72 hours, ranking 141st
  • Port Elizabeth drivers lose 71 hours, ranking 75th
  • And Bloemfontein drivers lose 62 hours, ranking 165th

If these hours sound horrific, spare a thought for the poor drivers in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá who lose, on average, a whopping 272 hours a year stuck in traffic jams!

On average, drivers’ commutes increase by roughly 30% during peak versus inter-peak hours. And the reality is that congestion issues aren’t going away anytime soon. Not here in SA, or anywhere else in the world. So what can we, as drivers, do to make the situation easier to cope with on our daily commute?

Change of mindset

Stressing about the unavoidable, the inevitable, and all the things that are out of our control – like congestion caused by accidents, faulty street lights, or bad weather – is a waste of energy. We should try finding ways of using that time in our cars more productively, to create a less tense, more positive experience. Learning to change our perspective about this challenging time, and associating it with something enjoyable, can drastically alter our reaction to and engagement with it. Rather than expending all our energy on futile anger and frustration, we can channel our focus on things that relax or energise us instead.

Just one more chapter

Being stuck in traffic usually aggravates us because it feels like a huge waste of valuable time. But like a wise man once said, time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. Listening to a podcast or audiobook can not only be entertaining, but also educational, which is a brilliant use of your time. Ifyou think of your car as a ‘learning lab’, a mobile university of sorts, and your time spent inside as away to exercise your brain and grow intellectually, you may even find yourself wishing for bad traffic so you have an excuse to carry on listening to your podcast or audiobook.

Tame your inner Hulk

Pulling up a playlist of your favourite, feel-good songs can do wonders to combat stress levels. Downbeat music has been proven to have a mellowing effect on drivers. Making a quick switch to downbeat music shows measurable physiological improvements, with drivers calming down much sooner, and making fewer driving mistakes. So the next time you feel your inner Hulk emerging, crank up the volume on your favourite tunes.

The power of ‘caromatherapy’

There are numerous studies on aromas and their impact on human emotion, behaviour, and performance. Researchers have found that peppermint can enhance mental and athletic performance and cognitive functioning, while cinnamon may improve tasks related to attentional processes and visual-motor response speed. A study from Kyoto University in Japan revealed that participants reported significantly lower hostility and depression scores, and felt more relaxed after awalk through a pine forest. It makes sense then, to incorporate some ‘caromatherapy’ into our lives. There are plenty of off-the-shelf car diffusers available, or you could add a few drops of essential oil to DIY felt air fresheners. Citrus scents like orange or lemon can provide a boost of energy, while rosemary can relieve stress and anxiety. Take care not to hang anything that might obstruct your field of vision though, and always make sure to test out essential oils at home first, in case a scent makes you dizzy or overly relaxed, which could affect driving focus.

Contemplate your navel

The mind is a powerful thing, and simply willing yourself to relax might be the most effective method of all. While we don’t recommend meditating while driving due to safety reasons, breathing exercises can help you stay focused and feeling calm. One useful practice is the one-to-one technique – breathing in and out for the same count with the same intensity. Deep, measured breaths facilitate full oxygen exchange, helping to slow down the rate of your heartbeat and stabilise blood pressure, as opposed to shallow breathing, which doesn’t send enough air to the lowest part of your lungs, causing you to feel anxious and short of breath. Just always keep your eyes on the road, and take care to ensure you’re not so busy counting breaths that your concentration is compromised.

Not all those who wander are lost

Some of our best ideas come in those moments where we’re alone with our own thoughts, able to really reflect on the ideas we have without having something immediate that needs our attention. Allow your mind to wander, and do a little brainstorming. Alternatively, use the time to simply day dream. Remember, downtime is not dead time. It is both necessary, and important for your mental health. Use this time as an opportunity to take care of yourself.

In-built vehicle tech

“As we spend more and more time commuting, cars are being designed to accommodate longer periods behind the wheel,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Ford uses human-centric design to deliver vehicles that are inviting, accommodating, and intuitive. For example, our SYNCT infotainment system offers nifty, hands-free functions, like allowing drivers to listen to their texts, change music or climate settings, and make phone calls easily with voice control. Our range of driver-assist technologies, like Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Semi-Auto Active Park Assist, are also designed to take some of the stress off city driving. If our lifestyle means that we might be spending more time in our cars than we do on holiday, then we should make sure we make the most of that time.”

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Vodacom exits Africa biz services



Vodacom Group has sold Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire to Andile Ngcaba’s Synergy Communications. The two entities are in the process of concluding the acquisitions, which are subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities within these markets.

Vodacom says the transaction supports the Group’s enterprise strategy in Africa, which has been refocused to grow and strengthen its core business. It will no longer directly service global enterprise customers in these three markets but will rather continue to operate as a pan African telecommunications networks provider through local relationships, like the one with Synergy Communications. 

This acquisition represents a significant milestone in Synergy Communication’s quest to be a leading provider of cloud and digitally based services in key markets across sub-Saharan Africa and provides key additional assets in its build out of a regional footprint. Synergy Communications currently has operations in Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.

Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Synergy Communications said: “This is an exciting landmark transaction for Synergy Communications, providing us with additional momentum in the delivery of our strategy as a pan-African enterprise digital Services Provider. Synergy Communications will partner with major global cloud providers and deliver platform-based services to both multi-nationals and local enterprises.”

Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group, said: “Vodacom has a clear vision for strengthening our position as a leading pan-African business and will work with local service providers like Synergy Communications to grow in these markets. Crucially, Vodacom is not exiting any of the territories related to this transaction and remains focused on continuing to deliver exceptional service to our global and multinational clients in these markets through long-term commercial agreements. 

“To support the sustainable growth of pan African digital economies and building connected societies, Vodacom will, via local service providers, continue to service clients in each market. We seek to leverage the collective strengths of Vodacom and Synergy Communications to meet the changing requirements of clients across each of these markets.”

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