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Why trust has to be built into software

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By ROSS MCLAREN, Chief Operating Officer at redPanda

Transparency is a concept that has become increasingly important in the business world. Studies emerging globally show that in the era of fake news, post-truth and massive exposes of public and private malfeasance, customers are in search of something that quite literally forms the basis of every relationship dating back to the first-ever transaction: trust.

PwC’s 21st Annual Global CEO Survey found that two thirds of CEOs globally are worried that trust is declining in business. Similarly, a Kantar Millward Brown 2018 Top Brands in the World Study found that there is a strong correlation between trust in a brand and its value. Any solution aimed at attracting and retaining  consumers simply has to speak to the new digitally savvy customer, the increasing risks of disruption, data security and business theft or fraud.

The development of comprehensive solutions require implicit trust. A software development model should be built on the two pillars of transparency and trust – that is when an agile, dynamic partnership for the long haul is created.

The single biggest benefit of a long-term development partnership is increased domain knowledge and more effective, relevant solutions. The often-repeated phrase, ́we strive to create real value for our clients´ is brought to life, and gives the enterprise software developer the opportunity – and confidence – to approach clients with new technology and concepts that are relevant. These could be embedded in mixed reality, artificial intelligence or machine learning, amongst others.

Budgeting and planning are two important challenges. From a budgeting point of view, there needs to be a very detailed and concise scope of work. This requires the developer having an in-depth understanding of the client’s business – how the processes work, the problem that needs a solution and the domain where they operate. 

This is vital because in order to win board approval, the developer and enterprise need to be 100% aligned. This requires very careful and methodical planning with the right people involved from the earliest stages of engagement. 

South Africa is on par with the rest of the world when it comes to the expertise involved in enterprise software development. South African enterprises face the same business challenges as their international counterparts, albeit in a different set of local economic and political conditions

Businesses need to develop solutions to business problems fast, and push to new markets as soon as possible making use of the latest and most up-to-date technology in order to gain a competitive advantage. 

How is this achieved? Through transparency and long-term engagements cemented in trust.

The world of IT is dynamic and fluid, and so long-term business, and trust in relationships between the enterprise and the developer are crucial. Besides the obvious benefits of clear and regular feedback resulting in better solution development, the business has the confidence that the developer partner is utilising the best-possible technology solutions for its business problems in innovative and effective ways – because it understands the domain and business exceptionally well. 

Just like when you embark on a flight, you have implicit trust in the design of the aircraft, the crew and the pilot, your business should view software development in the same way.

Famously, the pilot of a Quantas flight whose engine exploded told the Sydney Morning Herald that instead of panicking, he had the utmost faith in the Airbus, the systems and the crew. This was unshakable trust that was built up over time and that saw him land a plane safely in Singapore with hundreds of lives aboard.

Each business will have its preferred method of developing this kind of implicit trust and building meaningful partnerships. This strategy should be driven from the c-suite down until it permeates every level of the organisation. Our approach at redPanda Software is that enterprise software development partnerships are always built on the two pillars of transparency and trust, enabling a fruitful and successful long-term engagement.

Having skin in the game long-term means that our domain knowledge and trust relationship with our partners empowers us to exploit the very best, and latest technology in the smartest way possible. The end result: a solution that has a measurable impact on a business that remains relevant in an ever-evolving consumer landscape.

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Now for hardware-as-a-service

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Integrated ICT and Infrastructure provider Vox has entered into an exclusive partnership with Go Rentals to introduce a Hardware-as-a-Service (HaaS) offering, which is aimed at providing local small and medium businesses (SMEs) with quick, affordable, and scalable access to a wide variety of IT infrastructure – as well as the management thereof.

“Despite an increasingly competitive business environment where every rand counts, many business owners are still buying technology-based equipment outright rather than renting it,” says Barry Kemp, Head of Managed IT at Vox. “The problem with this is that the modern device arena has grown in variety and complexity, making it more difficult to manage, and to reduce the overheads of controlling these devices.”

According to Kemp, there is a global trend being observed in businesses moving away from owning and managing IT infrastructure. This started with the move away from servers and toward cloud-based subscription services, and now organisations are looking to do the same with the remaining on-premise hardware – employees’ desktop systems.

The availability of HaaS changes the way in which local businesses consume IT, by allowing them to direct valuable capital expenditure toward the more efficient and competitive operation of their organisation, rather than spending on hardware products. 

“The rental costs are up to 50% lower than if they buy these products through traditional asset financing methods. Furthermore, using HaaS gives businesses the ability to scale up and down depending on their infrastructure requirements. Customers on a 12 month contract can return up to 10% of the devices rented, while those customers on 24 and 36 month contracts can return up to 20% of the devices – at any time during the contract,” adds Kemp.

More than just a rental

HaaS gives business access to repurposed Tier 1 hardware from vendors such as Dell, HP and Lenovo, equipped with the required specifications (processor, memory, and storage), and come installed with the latest Microsoft Windows operating system, unless an older version is specifically requested by the customer.

Kemp says: “Where HaaS is different from simply renting IT hardware is that businesses get full asset lifecycle management, such as having all company software pre-installed, flexible refresh cycles and upgrades, support and warranty management and transparent and predictable per user monthly fees.”

The ability to upgrade during the contract period means that businesses can keep pace with the latest in technology without needing to invest on depreciating equipment, while ensuring maximum productivity and efficiency for employees. Returned devices are put through a decommissioning process that ensures anonymity, certified data protection, and environmental compliance. 

Businesses further stand to benefit from Vox Care, which incorporates asset management and logistical services for customers. This includes initial delivery and setup in major centres, asset tagging of all rented items, creation, and the repair and/or replacement of faulty machines within three business days – again in the main metropolitan areas. 

Vox Care also assists in the design, testing and deployment of custom images, whereby HaaS clients can have the additional programmes they need (security, productivity tools, business software, etc) easily pre-installed along with the Windows operating system, on all their machines.

Kemp says HaaS customers can get further peace of mind by outsourcing the day to day management of their desktop environment to Vox Managed Services, as well as leverage the company’s knowledge and expertise to manage and host workstation backups to ensure business continuity.

Says Kemp: “Hardware-as-a-Service allows businesses to reduce the total cost of ownership of their hardware and ensure they only pay for what they use. Making the switch to a service model helps them take advantage of the global move in this direction, and to turn their business into a highly functional, flexible, low cost, change your mind whenever you want workplace.”

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Seedstars seeks tech to reverse land degradation in Africa

A new partnership is offering prizes to young entrepreneurs for coming up with innovations that tackle the loss of arable land in Africa.

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The DOEN Foundation has joined forces with Seedstars, an emerging market startup community, to launch the DOEN Land Restoration Prize, which showcases solutions to environmental, social and financial challenges that focus on land restoration activities in Africa. Stichting DOEN is a Dutch fund that supports green, socially-inclusive and creative initiatives that contribute to a better and cleaner world.

While land degradation and deforestation date back millennia, industrialization and a rising population have dramatically accelerated the process. Today we are seeing unprecedented land degradation, and the loss of arable land at 30 to 35 times the historical rate.

Currently, nearly two-thirds of Africa’s land is degraded, which hinders sustainable economic development and resilience to climate change. As a result, Africa has the largest restoration opportunity of any continent: more than 700 million hectares (1.7 billion acres) of degraded forest landscapes that can be restored. The potential benefits include improved food and water security, biodiversity protection, climate change resilience, and economic growth. Recognizing this opportunity, the African Union set an ambitious target to restore 100 million hectares of degraded land by 2030.

Land restoration is an urgent response to the poor management of land. Forest and landscape restoration is the process of reversing the degradation of soils, agricultural areas, forests, and watersheds thereby regaining their ecological functionality. According to the World Resources Institute, for every $1 invested in land restoration it can yield $7-$30 in benefits, and now is the time to prove it.

The winner of the challenge will be awarded 9 months access to the Seedstars Investment Readiness Program, the hybrid program challenging traditional acceleration models by creating a unique mix to improve startup performance and get them ready to secure investment. They will also access a 10K USD grant.

“Our current economic system does not meet the growing need to improve our society ecologically and socially,” says Saskia Werther, Program Manager at the DOEN Foundation. “The problems arising from this can be tackled only if a different economic system is considered. DOEN sees opportunities to contribute to this necessary change. After all, the world is changing rapidly and the outlines of a new economy are becoming increasingly clear. This new economy is circular and regenerative. Landscape restoration is a vital part of this regenerative economy and social entrepreneurs play an important role to establish innovative business models to counter land degradation and deforestation. Through this challenge, DOEN wants to highlight the work of early-stage restoration enterprises and inspire other frontrunners to follow suit.”

Applications are open now and will be accepted until October 15th. Startups can apply here: http://seedsta.rs/doen

To enter the competition, startups should meet the following criteria:

  • Existing startups/young companies with less than 4 years of existence
  • Startups that can adapt their current solution to the land restoration space
  • The startup must have a demonstrable product or service (Minimum Viable Product, MVP)
  • The startup needs to be scalable or have the potential to reach scalability in low resource areas.
  • The startup can show clear environmental impact (either by reducing a negative impact or creating a positive one)
  • The startup can show a clear social impact
  • Technology startups, tech-enabled startups and/or businesses that can show a clear innovation component (e.g. in their business model)

Also, a specific emphasis is laid, but not limited to: Finance the restoration of degraded land for production and/or conservation purposes; big data and technology to reverse land degradation; resource efficiency optimization technologies, ecosystems impacts reduction and lower carbon emissions; water-saving soil technologies; technologies focused on improving livelihoods and communities ; planning, management and education tools for land restoration; agriculture (with a focus on precision conservation) and agroforestry; clean Energy solutions that aid in the combat of land degradation; and responsible ecotourism that aids in the support of land restoration.

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