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We can change the world

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Michael Dell kicked off this year’s Dell EMC World by saying the tools for a digital transformation are out there and it is up for companies to grab the bull by the horns and make the change, writes DOUG WOOLLEY, Dell EMC GM: South Africa.

“You are some of the world’s greatest organisations and you are leading through a time of unprecedented change and opportunity. This is your show. It’s about how you are changing the world: reshaping industries, reinventing processes, transforming your organisations to shape your future.”

With those words, Michael Dell started his keynote at Dell EMC World, held in Las Vegas. This year more than 13,500 people attended the event, ready to learn how they can take their transformations forward.

To me it served as a reminder of what we can do and what is at stake. Later, back in South Africa, I spoke to renowned analyst Arthur Goldstuck, who also attended Dell EMC World 2017. He said something very true and crucial: there are no more excuses. The future is being built on digital transformation. The tools and platforms are out there. What remains is for companies and countries to grab the bull by the horns and make the change.

I completely agree with him. But it is easier said than done. Many still struggle to start and maintain the journey to this new era. That’s because it is a fundamental challenge. Digital transformation is not a bolt-on to a business. It starts at the foundation and works its way through the entire organisation. It is both top-down and grassroots. It is corporate, functional and operational. The business vision remains intact, but everything about how it will realise that vision changes. This is a daunting shift.

That problem stayed with me long after the event. Dell Technologies, which emerged from the highly successful combination between Dell and EMC, is an undeniable leader in this transformation. The high utilisation of our services and solutions prove that. But this brings a certain responsibility as well: if we expect the world to change, we must help lead and define that change. Our customers – current and future – look to us for guidance. What I have to ask is how can Dell EMC be a partner for South Africa’s digital transformation?

IT maturity is key. You can’t simply flip a switch and digital magic appears. But it shouldn’t be as complicated and daunting as it appears either. The primary outcome is to get businesses away from the burden of technology procurement and maintenance, and back to what they do best. In the Dell EMC hallways we call this Radical Infrastructure Simplicity. Through a variety of products, we are equipped to create the digital foundations businesses can build on.

An often-cited example is our Hyper-Converged Infrastructure, which deliver turnkey systems ready for digital services to be deployed on them with the littlest of fuss. But we need to go further, which is why Dell EMC has introduced elastic financing models such as Financial Services Flex. We don’t want upfront costs to drain your digital ambition, so we have designed industry-first financing solutions that cater for every type and size of business.

Another example, announced at the Las Vegas gathering, is PC-as-a-Service. This unique offering takes advantage of Dell EMC’s leading consumer devices to equip staff with top computer systems without the hefty capital layout. Let’s be honest: change is not cheap and this is keeping many companies, particularly smaller businesses, from transforming. Both of the aforementioned services are here to take that pain away.

It is obvious that I want to promote what Dell EMC offers the market. But this is not my primary goal. That question of how we can help accelerate digital transformation in South Africa remains the brass ring. I am just fortunate to lead the local office of a very dynamic and progressive company.

Dell EMC has a vast ecosystem, and is rich for its extensive investments in consultation, methodology research and toolsets. We were early evangelists for cloud and pioneers of cloud management and infrastructure. Today that expertise spans across seven major companies, modernising data centres, improving security, driving virtualization and much more. Whether you need a turnkey upgrade of your servers, develop your Internet of Things strategy or place the best devices in the hands of employees, we’ve thought about the challenges and created solutions for you to consider.

This commitment goes beyond product. One of the most exciting announcements I saw at Dell EMC World 2017, beyond the virtual reality sets and mind-blowing gaming systems, was that of Alice: a virtual assistant that specifically serves women entrepreneurs.  The event also made it clear that Dell EMC is very concerned about the environment and sustainability is a guiding principle of our organisation.

Arthur Goldstuck was right: there are no excuses. But to me, there are no excuses for us, Dell EMC, to help you change your business and your world for the better. This is the commitment I reaffirmed after Dell EMC World 2017: we all really can change the world and Dell EMC will be there to help every step of the way.

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Dell plans 50/50 gender split; 1:1 recycling and reuse

Dell Technologies has unveiled an ambitious 2030 target for a social impact plan called Progress Made Real.

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Dell Technologies has declared a decade of responsibility and innovation to ramp up the company’s social impact worldwide. At the company’s Dell Technologies Summit in Austin, Texas, last week, chairman and CEO Michael Dell unveiled a set of ambitious goals in a plan called 2030 Progress Made Real.

“Unlocking the power of data will advance humanity more than any other force over the next decade,” said Dell. “We are committed to making that power broadly available to communities around the world, so we can all move forward together.”

Over the next decade, he said, Dell Technologies will use its global scale, broad technology portfolio and expertise to yield meaningful and measurable impact on society and the planet. 

The plan sets the following goals for the company:

Advance sustainability 

·        Recycle an equivalent product for every product a customer buys

·        Lead the circular economy with more than half of all product content being made from recycled or renewable material 

·        Use 100% recycled or renewable material in all packaging 

·        Deliver future-ready skills development for workers in their supply chain

·        Drive a comprehensive science-based climate program, setting emissions goals across facilities, supply chain and operations to customer use of our products including partnering with suppliers to meet a greenhouse gas emissions reduction target of 60% per unit revenue by 2030

Cultivate inclusion

·        Acquire, develop and retain women so they account for 50% of the company’s global workforce and 40% of global people managers

·        Acquire, develop and retain black/African American and Hispanic team members so they account for 25% of the company’s U.S. workforce and 15% of U.S. people managers 

·        Educate 95% of all team members on an annual basis about unconscious bias, harassment, micro-aggressions and privilege 

Transform lives

·        Advance the health, education and economic opportunity of 1 billion people

·        Digitally transform 1,000 nonprofit organisations

·        Achieve 75% team member participation in charitable giving and volunteerism in communities

The company says ethics and privacy are foundational to its corporate and social impact strategies and are essential to executing the 2030 goals. To this end, it is fully automating data control processes, making it easier for customers to access, delete or share their personal data. The company will use digital tools to make it easier to get insights from, measure and monitor compliance issues using digital data. 

In addition to seeking customer input, Dell Technologies engaged third parties, considered the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals and Business Roundtable’s Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation, and surveyed team members to assess the most critical issues and opportunities they see in their work and the world.

“We have a great responsibility to apply the full power of Dell Technologies to transform lives and society,” said Karen Quintos, chief customer officer at Dell Technologies. “By combining our technology portfolio, global scale, team member talent and customer partnerships, we can drive significant positive impact. Our 2030 agenda is comprehensive and deeply embedded across the business. The moonshot goals stretch us to go far beyond incremental change. In some cases, we’re still working to uncover how we’ll get there – but we know that significant change and innovation starts with deep commitment.”

In June 2019, Dell Technologies announced early completion of many of its 2020 goals. For example, through a global recycling network, it reached a 2020 goal of recycling 2-billion pounds of used electronics.  Through partnerships with the Government of India and Tata Trusts, it deployed a cloud-based analytics solution to deliver preventive healthcare to remote villages, reaching 11 million people who would otherwise not have these services. A range of additional social impact goals have also been reached (see graphic below)

* For the full list of 2030 goals, see delltechnologies.com/2030goals

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Behind the scenes of Netflix SA’s Queen Sono

South Africa’s first Netflix Original TV show, Queen Sono, is almost ready to air. Gadget’s BRYAN TURNER spoke to the show’s creators on set.

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In the heart of Johannesburg, a house is about to make history as one of the first homes to have a South African Netflix Original filmed inside. During filming, it’s surrounded by a dozen large trucks that carry props, camera equipment, set equipment and equipment needed to make this production a reality. 

We chatted with Queen Sono’s writer, director, and showrunner, Kagiso Lediga, on set recently. He also heads up Diprente, the Johannesburg-based production company behind the show.

“[Being writer and director] gives one the ability to carry out the vision,” says Lediga. “I mean, it’s not just that I’m wearing many hats. But there’s the other creators, other HODs: from production designer to cinematographer, to the other writers that I work with. So it’s great, I guess that being a showrunner you kind of have to touch on all of those.

“It’s a huge responsibility in terms of carrying out the narrative. You know, sometimes what’s great is when you come up with an idea, and then when you see it when, either you’re sitting behind the monitor, directing, or while you’re sitting and editing, and you’re like ‘Whoa, that’s exactly how we imagined it’.”

The show is an action-packed series that follows Queen Sono, a highly trained top spy in a South African agency whose purpose is to better the lives of African citizens. While taking on her most dangerous mission yet, she must also face changing relationships in her personal life.

Of course, the gravity of being a Netflix Original means that Queen Sono will be put on a global stage, and will be available to stream in over 40 countries. We asked the show’s Director of Photography, Motheo Moeng, how the show’s image has been carefully crafted for a local and global audience.

“Overall, the treatment of the show is based on the characters we have written, naturally, and other spy films that we have looked at,” says Moeng. “So the treatment of her visually, and the look to the show visually, had that in mind. So as much as you wanted to treat it as an African show, we were well aware that it had to have international appeal.”

It’s also dangerous work getting the show to be perfect, Moeng says.

“It’s like being in a boxing ring, so there are days when you’re getting punched, there are days when you have to stand up and go. But overall, I guess the banter between myself and the first aiders is interesting. Our jobs are a direct contrast to each other; I’m trying to constantly light and make things look pretty, and he has to make sure we make the day, so if you stick around for long enough, you’ll see the love-hate relationship between us.”

Stunt Coordinators Grant Powell and Filip-Ciprian ‘Chip’ Florian have us a quick insight into how to get the actors (and film crew) ready for a spy movie’s action.

“[Most productions] have the same demands because they all have the same elements,” says Powell. “It doesn’t matter how big the movie, they’re still an actor. An actor still has to be trained. I still have to deal with the psychology of that. Convincing them that they can do it. So it really doesn’t matter the scale of the film, you’re still dealing with the same elements, which is training an actor from scratch sometimes.

“There was a combat scene with Queen Sono and the baddies, and she kicks one of them out the window, which is Chip by the way. So he goes through plate glass, goes over the balcony, three stories up and lands on a car. I thought that was cool. We had three weeks prep, which is great for a local show. You never get that, you’re usually learning on the day. That’s why the audience will instantly see the quality will be better because of this preparation. That’s what’s going to make this show stand out over and above anything that’s ever been done locally.”

Queen Sono is expected to be released exclusively on Netflix in 2020.

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