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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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Vodacom cuts cost of smallest bundle by 40%

The country’s largest mobile operator has kept to a promise made last month to slash the price of entry-level data packages

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Vodacom has cut the data price of its lowest-cost bundle by 40%, reducing the price of a 50MB 30-day bundle from R20 to to R12. This follows from the operator’s promise in March, when it announced a 33% cut in the cost of 1GB bundles, to reduce prices of all smaller bundles by up to 40%.

Vodacom’s various 30-day data bundle prices will be cut across all of its channels, with the new pricing as follows:

30-day bundle size New Price Reduction
50MB R12 40%
150MB R29 33%
325MB R55 33%
500MB R79 21%
1GB R99 34%
3GB R229 23%
5GB R349 14%
10GB R469 22%
20GB R699 31%

Vodacom confirmed it will provide free data to access essential services through Vodacom’s zero-rated platform ConnectU with immediate effect. The value of these initiatives, it says, is R2.7-billion over the next year.

“Vodacom can play a critical role in supporting society during this challenging time and we’re committed to doing whatever we can to help customers stay connected,” says Jorge Mendes, Chief Officer of Vodacom’s Consumer Business Unit. “Since we started our pricing transformation strategy three years ago, our customers have benefitted from significant reductions in data prices and the cost of voice calls. Over the same period, we invested over R26 billion in infrastructure and new technologies, so our customers enjoy wider 2G, 3G and 4G coverage and vastly increased data speeds.”

The latest data reductions will complement the discounted bundle offers that will also be made available to prepaid customers in more than 2,000 less affluent suburbs and villages around the country. For qualifying communities to access further discounted voice and data deals, they need to click on the scrolling ConnectU banner on the platform via connectu.vodacom.co.za

ConnectU – which is a zero-rated platform – also went live this week. It will provide content aimed at social development and offers a variety of essential services for free. Learners and students enrolled in schools and universities can access relevant information for free, with no data costs. The ConnectU portal includes a search engine linked to open sources such as Wikipedia and Wiktionary as well as free access to job portals; free educational content on the e-School platform; free health and wellness information and free access to Facebook Flex, the low data alternative to Facebook that enables customers to stay socially connected.

Vodacom’s popular Just4You platform has been a significant contributor to the approximately 50% reduction in effective data prices over the past two years. Substantial cuts in out-of-bundle tariffs and the introduction of hourly, daily and weekly bundles with much lower effective prices have also driven increased value and affordability, resulting in R2-billion in savings for customers in 2019.

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OneBlade shaves price of electric precision

Electric razors and their blades are usually quite expensive. But the Philips OneBlade shaves the cost, writes SEAN BACHER

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Electric razors come in all shapes and forms and their prices vary as well. When your nearest electronic retail outlet opens again, you will be able to pay a small fortune for a wet and dry razor that cleans itself, shows you when it needs to be recharged, and tells you to replace the cleaning solution – all via a little LCD panel in the handle.

But does everyone want that? Does everyone need that? Surely there must be customers who want an easy-to-use, no-mess, no-fuss razor that gets the job done just as well as a “smart razor”?

With this in mind, Philips has launched its OneBlade wet and dry electric razor. The razor is dead simple to use. It comes with three stubble combs – 1mm, 3mm and 5 mm –  which can be clicked onto the head much like one would with a hair shaver. Should you want a really close shave, simply the combs off. I found this to be the most effective as I don’t have a beard.

The razor’s blade is the size of the striking side of a matchbox and has 90-degree angles all round. This offers precise shaving and, because of its small size, it is able to get just about anywhere on a person’s face.

The blade has a usage indicator that shows when it is time to replace the blade – usually after four months – and an additional blade is included in the box.

The OneBlade’s battery takes up to eight hours to charge, and will give up to 45 minutes shaving time.

Overall, the Philips OneBlade will give a man a comfortable and precise shave. Its battery life, combined with its size, makes it a perfect travel companion as it is no bigger than an electric toothbrush. Its relatively low price compared to other electric razors also counts in its favour.

The One Blade can be bought from most electronic retailers or can be ordered online from websites like takealot.com. The razor retails for R650 and a set of two new blades will cost around R450.

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