A new study has revealed that organizations are embracing video more effectively with their workers to help prevent digital dislocation between companies and workers.
Organisations are embracing video to help them communicate more effectively with their workers, according to new independent research commissioned by BT and Cisco. Coupled with the proliferation of cloud computing and mobile, these developments are helping to prevent ‘digital dislocation’ between organisations and their employees.
The study, which included respondents from South Africa, found that technologies such as video, cloud and mobile are becoming critical platforms for communication across large businesses – from executives through to employees. Eight-five percent (85%) of local respondents thought desktop video would really add value and be useful, while eighty-one percent (81%) of local IT decision makers said they wanted video on their work-smartphone or tablet.
The findings suggest that more work is needed to reduce “digital dislocation”, whereby employees feel disconnected due to lack of face-to-face interactions with colleagues. Seventy-six percent (76%) of local IT decision makers complain about time wasted trying to contact colleagues, and three quarters want simpler ways to share information.
These struggles reflect changes in the modern workplace in recent years, with initiatives such as bring your own device (BYOD) and flexible working driving the need for more innovative communication and collaboration technology. The research reveals that over half (67%) of employees now work ‘flexibly’, either on the go, at client sites or from home, while eighty-seven percent (87%) want more simple ways to share information with colleagues and collaborate more easily when on the move for work. Similarly, the research finds that in South Africa, fifty-seven percent (57%) of workers want to use their own devices at work (over 47% globally).
Better collaboration tools are increasingly being seen as the solution, with eighty percent (80%) of employees wanting to use collaborative tools more often.
To address this demand, BT and Cisco are announcing an upgrade to the BT One Cloud video technology platform. The new set of enhancements further simplifies scheduling a video call conference using Outlook. They also make it easier for almost any type of video user to join a conference using any device or application, including TelePresence and Skype for Business – whether they are located inside or outside of the organisation.
Oliver Fortuin, managing Director, BT in Sub Saharan Africa, says: “As the mobile workforce continues to grow locally, it is easy for employees to get trapped inside specialist departments and divisions or drop off the map while working out of the office. But staying connected has never been so important and is vital to an organisation’s success. Using effective collaboration tools, employees can share information and make faster, better decisions.”
Scot Gardner, vice president, Global Service Provider Europe, Middle East and Africa and Russia (EMEAR) at Cisco says: “Businesses are under extreme pressure to prevent against ‘digital dislocation’, streamline processes and improve productivity in a variety of locations across countries and even continents. By adopting cloud, mobile and video technology, like the BT One Cloud video technology platform, companies can ensure that they have simple and seamless communication throughout their organisation, avoiding siloed departments and ultimately, creating an inclusive and connected culture, regardless of geography.”
In order to facilitate these new technologies, many IT managers are looking at cloud services to help stretch their budgets and replace outdated legacy systems. Globally, the research reveals that those organisations that have rolled out a cloud technology beyond trial have benefitted, with average total operating costs falling by twenty-five percent (25%). At the same time, they have seen a thirty percent (30%) increase in employee satisfaction directly following implementation of cloud based collaboration technology. Crucially, far fewer IT decision makers view security as a barrier to using cloud based collaboration, down to fifty-two percent (52%) globally from sixty-eight percent (68%) three years ago.
Concludes Fortuin; “As organisations become more familiar with cloud services, there is increasing trust and confidence in their security. At BT we’ve noticed that organisations leading the trend by using cloud collaboration tools are already experiencing great results – saving money and delivering better customer experience.”
Low-cost wireless sport earphones get a kickstart
Wireless earphone brands are common, but not crowdfunded brands. BRYAN TURNER takes the K Sport Wireless for a run.
As wireless technology becomes better, Bluetooth earphones have become popular in the consumer market. KuaiFit aspires to make them even more accessible to more people through a cheaper, quality product, by selling the K Sport Wireless Earphones directly from its Kickstarter page
KuaiFit has an app by the same name which offers voice-guided personal training services in almost every type of exercise, from cardio to weight-lifting. A vast range of connectivity to third-party sensors is available, like heart rate sensors and GPS devices, which work well with guided coaching.
The app starts off with selecting a fitness level: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Thereafter, one has the ability to connect with real personal trainers via a subscription to its paid service. The subscription comes free for 6 months with the earphones, and R30 per month thereafter.
The box includes a manual, a USB to two USB Type B connectors, different sized soft plastic eartips and the two earphone units. Each earphone is wireless and connects to the other independently of wires. This puts the K Sport Wireless in the realm of the Apple Earpods in terms of connection style.
The earphones are just over 2cm wide and 2cm high. The set is black with a light blue KuaiFit logo on the earphone’s button.
The button functions as an on/off switch when long-pressed and a play/pause button when quick-pressed. The dual-button set-up is convenient in everyday use, allowing for playback control depending on which hand is free. Two connectivity modes are available, single earphone mode or dual earphone mode. The dual earphone mode intelligently connects the second earphone and syncs stereo audio a few seconds after powering on.
In terms of connectivity, the earphones are Bluetooth 4.1 with a massive 10-meter range, provided there are no obstacles between the device and the earphones. While it’s not Bluetooth 5, it still falls into the Bluetooth Low Energy connection category, meaning that the smartphone’s battery won’t be drastically affected by a consistent connection to the earphones. The batteries within the earphones aren’t specifically listed but last anywhere between 3 and 6 hours, depending on the mode.
Audio quality is surprisingly good for earphones at this price point. The headset style is restricted to in-ear due to its small design and probable usage in movement-intensive activities. As a result, one has to be very careful how one puts these earphones, in because bass has the potential of getting reduced from an incorrect in-ear placement. In-ear earphones are usually notorious for ear discomfort and suction pain after extended usage. These earphones are one of the very few in this price range that are comfortable and don’t cause discomfort. The good quality of the soft plastic ear tip is definitely a factor in the high level of comfort of the in-ear earphone experience.
Overall, the K Sport Wireless earphones are great considering the sound quality and the low price: US$30 on Kickstarter.
Find them on Kickstarter here.
Taxify enters Google Maps
A recent update to Taxify now uses Google Maps which allows users to identify their drivers, find public transport and search for billing options.
People planning their travel routes using Google Maps will now see a Taxify icon in the app, in addition to the familiar car, public transport, walking and billing options.
Taxify started operating in South Africa in 2016 and as of October 2018 operates in seven South African cities – Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Polokwane.
Once riders have searched for their destination and asked the app for directions, Google Maps shares the proximity of cars on the Taxify platform, as well as an estimated fare for the trip.
If users see that taking the Taxify option is their best bet, they can simply tap on the ‘Open app’ icon, to complete the process of booking the ride. Customers without the app on their device will be prompted to install Taxify first.
This integration makes it possible for users to evaluate which of the private, public or e-hailing modes of transport are most time-efficient and cost-effective.
“This integration with Google Maps makes it so much easier for users to choose the best way to move around their city,” says Gareth Taylor, Taxify’s country manager for South Africa. “They’ll have quick comparisons between estimated arrival times for the different modes of transport, as well as fares they can expect to pay, which will help save both time and money,” he added.
Taxify rides in Google Maps are rolling out globally today and will be available in more than 15 countries, with South Africa being one of the first countries to benefit from this convenient service.