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How Transformers movie can guide digital transformation

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By Monique Williams, regional manager at Hyland Southern Africa

There are parallels that can be drawn between the requirements for true digital transformation and the story of the “Transformers” – the characters who can convert from ordinary objects into powerful robots, or sentient beings sent from outer space to save our planet. As technology professionals, it is our responsibility to continue to push business forward and transform to stay relevant and ensure business revolution.

A content strategy that includes using document management tools, file shares and email, things that were revolutionary 20 years ago, might still be functional. However, a strategy based on those tools alone might no longer offer a competitive advantage because they are no longer the powerful, efficiency-increasing tools they once were.

Creating an organisation vision for managing related digital content, where companies are merely storing content for the sake of storing content, is no longer a valid concept. Instead, you must deliberately and intelligently connect and present content in a single, complete view.

In the Transformers story, there are three signs for the young protagonist, Sam, that Bumblebee, the dusty old Camaro, could transform into an intelligent, world-saving robot. First, the car began to drive itself; second, it could intelligently speak or play music to express its mood; and third, it finally transformed its entire appearance.

IT professionals should look for the same signs when interacting with their content to determine whether they have completed true digital transformation. Here’s what you should look for:

1. Content that drives itself

When you have fully transformed your content and information management strategy, the content will start to drive itself throughout the organisation. Once captured into a central repository, it will find its way to the appropriate personnel, wherever they might be, with specific business criteria automatically pushing it through its journey.

At this stage, any “human questions” should be answered digitally by technology. For instance, in the case of an invoice, this includes questions like, “Was this an approved order?”, “Did we receive what we ordered?” or “Do we qualify for early payment discount?”. These are business conditions stored somewhere, and if everything checks out then the payment can be automatically processed, without human intervention.

2. Content that speaks to those who need it

When you automate content flowing through an organisation, it will talk to you. In an organisation that is digitally transformed, systems should send notifications to the appropriate employees or audience when something has changed, such as someone submitting a form. Moreover, as someone needs to review or act on a piece of content, that content should find its way to that user through email notifications that give them all they need to complete the task at hand, including all related content.

For instance, during a hiring process, after the initial checks and balances have been put in place, prior applications have been gathered, and a recruiter has verified an application, the hiring manager for that position receives a notification that there is an applicant to review. Upon clicking the link, they will not only see the application but they’ll see all the contextual content, including notes from the HR recruiter who performed a phone interview. Perhaps most importantly, through automation in the systems, an applicant can receive regular updates with regards to the application through email or text message.

3. The content transforms in appearance

Digital information is not digital transformation. That transformation is only complete when the experience of users interacting with that information has completely changed. It might seem like a small difference when you look at the words, but the rubber hits the digital transformation road when users have instant access to the digital information they need, when and where they need it.

Just as important, the technology you utilise should provide views of information that help put context around content, through visuals like dashboards and maps. Users should have a clear picture of information that helps them immediately make decisions instead of needing to analyse individual pieces of content in separate locations.

Just like there’s an army of Transformers, it’s important to realise that this evolution can involve an army of multiple technology solutions. And, like the army of Transformers, it is critical that as you digitally transform, you make sure all your systems are integrated, ensuring you have truly connected your business-critical content and information.

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Small SA town goes smartphone-only

Vodacom partners with farming business to upgrade all residents of Wakkerstroom from 2G devices to smartphones

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All residents of the small town of Wakkerstroom, which straddles Mpumalanga and kwaZulu-Natal provinces, have had their 2G feature phones upgraded to 3G devices.

The initiative is a result of Vodacom partnering with BPG Langfontein, a farming business that employs the majority of the people living in Wakkerstroom. It is now the first smartphone-only town in South Africa. This is a model the network provider says it hopes to replicate across the country as part of its mission to connect people who live in deep rural areas and are still dependent on 2G networks.

Wakkerstroom, is the second oldest town in Mpumalanga province, on the KwaZulu-Natal border, 27 km east of Volksrust and 56 km south-east of Amersfoort.  

“There are growing expectations for big corporates the size of Vodacom to serve a social purpose, and for us to use our resources and core capabilities to make a significant contribution in transforming the lives of ordinary people,” says Zakhele Jiyane, Managing Executive for Vodacom Mpumalanga. “We are helping to remove communication barriers, so that citizens in the area can be part of the digital revolution and reap the associated benefits. By moving the more than 1400 farm workers from 2G to 3G devices, this will also free much needed spectrum and this spectrum can be re-farmed to provide for faster networks such as 3G and 4G.

“Crucially, the move opens a new world of connectivity for farm workers in Wakkerstroom. As a result, most people in the area will now be able to use the Vodacom network to connect on the net and access online government services, eHealth services such as Mum&Baby and eCommerce. Learners can now surf the internet for the first time and access Vodacom’s eSchool free of charge and those who are actively looking for jobs can start using their smartphones and tablets to apply for jobs over the internet on Vodacom’s zero-rated career sites. This will be key for driving growth to the benefit of people living in this area.”

Vodacom has already deployed 4G base stations in Wakkestroom as part of this initiative.

For the next phase of this project, says Vodacom, it is going to educate the farm workers about data and the benefits of the Internet. Vodacom will also look at various ways in which it can help empower members of this community in areas of education, gender-based violence and health.

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Facebook fact-checking goes to 10 more African countries

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Facebook today announced the expansion of its Third-Party Fact-Checking programme to 10 additional African countries, which now join  Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Cameroon and Senegal in the project,

In partnership with Agence France-Presse (AFP), the France 24 Observers, Pesa Check and Dubawa, this programme forms part of its work in helping assess the accuracy and quality of news people find on Facebook, whilst reducing the spread of misinformation on its platform.

Working with a network of fact-checking organizations, certified by the non-partisan International Fact-Checking Network, third-party fact-checking will now be available in Ethiopia, Zambia, Somalia and Burkina Faso through AFP, Uganda and Tanzania through both Pesa Check and AFP, Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire through the France 24 Observers and AFP, Guinea Conakry through the France 24 Observers, and Ghana through Dubawa.

Feedback from the Facebook community is one of many signals Facebook uses to raise potentially false stories to fact-checkers for review. Local articles will be fact-checked alongside the verification of photos and videos. If one of our fact-checking partners identifies a story as false, Facebook will show it lower in News Feed, significantly reducing its distribution.

Kojo Boakye, Facebook Head of Public Policy, Africa, said: “The expansion of third-party fact-checking to now cover 15 countries in a little over a year shows firsthand our commitment and dedication to the continent, alongside our recent local language expansion as part of this programme. Taking steps to help tackle false news on Facebook is a responsibility we take seriously, we know misinformation is a problem, and these are important steps in continuing to address this issue. We know that third-party fact-checking alone is not the solution, it is one of many initiatives and programmes we are investing in to help to improve the quality of information people see on Facebook. While we’ve made great progress, we will keep investing to ensure Facebook remains a place for all ideas, but not for the spread of false news.”

When third-party fact-checkers fact-check a news story, Facebook will show these in Related Articles immediately below the story in News Feed. Page Admins and people on Facebook will also receive notifications if they try to share a story or have shared one in the past that’s been determined to be false, empowering people to decide for themselves what to read, trust, and share.

Providing fact-checking in English and French across eight countries, Phil Chetwynd, AFP Global News Director said: “AFP is delighted to be expanding its fact-checking project with Facebook. We are known for the high quality of our journalism from across Africa and we will be leveraging our unparalleled network of bureaus and journalists on the continent to combat misinformation.”

Eric Mugendi, Managing Editor from Pesa Check who will provide fact-checking services in Swahili and English added: “Social networks like Facebook haven’t just changed how Africans consume the news. Social media is often the primary access to digital content or the ‘Internet’ for many Africans. They shape our perceptions of the world, our public discourse, and how we interact with public figures. This project helps us dramatically expand our fact-checking to debunk claims that could otherwise cause real-world harm. The project helps us respond more quickly and directly. We’re seeing real positive results in our interactions with both publishers and the public itself. The project also helps our fact-checks reach a far larger audience than we would otherwise. This has helped us better understand the information vacuum and other viral dynamics that drive the spread of false information in Africa. Our growing impact is a small but tangible contribution to better informed societies in Africa.”

Caroline Anipah, Programme Officer, Dubawa (Ghana) said: “Dubawa is excited to be in Ghana where the misinformation and disinformation have become widespread as a result of technological advancement and increasing internet penetration. Dubawa intends to raise the quality of information available to the public with the ultimate aim of curbing the spread of misinformation and disinformation and promoting good governance and accountability.”

Derek Thomson, editor-in-chief of the France 24 Observers, said: “Our African users are constantly sending us questionable images and messages they’ve received via social media, asking us ‘Is this true? Can you check it?’ It’s our responsibility as fact-checking journalists to verify the information that’s circulating, and get the truth back out there. Participating in the Facebook programme helps ensure that our fact-checks are reaching the people who shared the false news in the first place.”

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