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Wits U gets digital chair

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Africa’s first Chair in Digital Business is to be established at the Wits Business School through an initial five-year funding commitment from Telkom.

This is in line with leading academic institutions around the world where the digital aspect of business is becoming an essential part of business studies.

“This Chair is a first for South Africa and the continent and will ensure that as a business school located in the economic heart of Africa, we are at the forefront of delivering important research and relevant programmes that are essential for doing business in today’s digitised world,” says Professor Steve Bluen, Head of the Wits Business School. “The impact of this Chair is significant. Not only will it contribute to the economy by developing essential skills that will boost employment and encourage start-ups, but it responds directly to the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy adopted by the African Union in 2014 that aims to reposition the continent as a collection of technology-driven economies, ensuring the sustainable growth of the countries within.”

The rapid development of information and communication technologies around the world and across the continent means that these days the internet is a key part of most businesses. Nearly every company or institution has online operations and many businesses now operate solely online.

Wits Business School also plans to conduct research in the field of digital business in Africa, and advance awareness of digital business and readiness by engaging with business, government and communities.

“A digital business removes the barriers of time and distance, creating local jobs that can compete in a global market,” says Professor Chris van der Hoven, Academic Director at the Wits Business School. “As we stand on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, business persons must understand the challenges, opportunities and risks of digital business, and be able to develop and implement digital business strategies, including digital management, web and data analytics and digital marketing in order to remain competitive locally and globally.”

Potential future developments include the Wits Business School offering a Master of Management in Digital Business, and the establishment of a Centre for Digital Business.

Sipho Maseko, Group Chief Executive at Telkom, said the availability of studies in digital business was an essential development for Africa and South Africa.

“Most businesses are, to an ever-increasing extent, online business. The next generation of business people will be even more exposed to new technologies, along with the threats and opportunities of digital disruption. Unless digital business is part of the business model, companies won’t survive.

“The old analogue approach is history. Digitalisation is helping companies achieve their business goals in a new real-time and information-rich marketplace. This is the world our young people are entering.”

Maseko said the collaboration with the Wits Business School would also help to identify and develop black South African and African talent in the field of digital business.

Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University, says, “The Telkom Chair is a welcome addition to Wits’ suite of data science and big data courses and research, as well as to our new innovation hub, the Tshimologong Precinct, in Braamfontein. The development of a successful technology ecosystem is crucial to economic growth and international competitiveness, and I have no doubt that these cutting edge offerings will be central to this.”

In addition to its initial R32.7 million funding over five years, Telkom would create a black internship programme for Wits Business School students. Telkom would also offer free digital business training to its own staff, and particularly executives studying for a master’s degree in digital business.

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Huawei Mate 20 unveils ‘higher intelligence’

The new Mate 20 series, launching in South Africa today, includes a 7.2″ handset, and promises improved AI.

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Huawei Consumer Business Group today launches the Huawei Mate 20 Series in South Africa.

The phones are powered by Huawei’s densest and highest performing system on chip (SoC) to date, the Kirin 980. Manufactured with the 7nm process, incorporating the Cortex-A76-based CPU and Mali-G76 GPU, the SoC offers improved performance and, according to Huawei, “an unprecedented smooth user experience”.

The new 40W Huawei SuperCharge, 15W Huawei Wireless Quick Charge, and large batteries work in tandem to provide users with improved battery life. A Matrix Camera System includes a  Leica Ultra Wide Angle Lens that lets users see both wider and closer, with a new macro distance capability. The camera system adopts a Four-Point Design that gives the device a distinct visual identity.

The Mate 20 Series is available in 6.53-inch, 6.39-inch and 7.2-inch sizes, across four devices: Huawei Mate 20, Mate 20 Pro, Mate 20 X and Porsche Design Huawei Mate 20 RS. They ship with the customisable Android P-based EMUI 9 operating system.

“Smartphones are an important entrance to the digital world,” said Richard Yu, CEO of Huawei Consumer BG, at the global launch in London last week. “The Huawei Mate 20 Series is designed to be the best ‘mate’ of consumers, accompanying and empowering them to enjoy a richer, more fulfilled life with their higher intelligence, unparalleled battery lives and powerful camera performance.”

The SoC fits 6.9 billion transistors within a die the size of a fingernail. Compared to Kirin 970, the latest chipset is equipped with a CPU that is claimed to be 75 percent more powerful, a GPU that is 46 percent more powerful and an NPU (neural processing unit) that is 226 percent more powerful. The efficiency of the components has also been elevated: the CPU is claimed to be 58 percent more efficient, the GPU 178 percent more efficient, and the NPU 182 percent more efficient. The Kirin 980 is the world’s first commercial SoC to use the Cortex-A76-based cores.

Huawei has designed a three-tier architecture that consists of two ultra-large cores, two large cores and four small cores. This allows the CPU to allocate the optimal amount of resources to heavy, medium and light tasks for greater efficiency, improving the performance of the SoC while enhancing battery life. The Kirin 980 is also the industry’s first SoC to be equipped with Dual-NPU, giving it higher On-Device AI processing capability to support AI applications.

Read more about the Mate 20 Pro’s connectivity, battery and camera on the next page. 

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How Quantum computing will change … everything?

Research labs, government agencies (NASA) and tech giants like Microsoft, IBM and Google are all focused on developing quantum theories first put forward in the 1970s. What’s more, a growing start-up quantum computing ecosystem is attracting hundreds of millions of investor dollars. Given this scenario, Forrester believes it is time for IT leaders to pay attention.

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“We expect CIOs in life sciences, energy, defence, and manufacturing to see a deluge of hype from vendors and the media in the coming months,” says Forrester’s Brian Hopkins, VP, principal analyst serving CIOs and lead author of a report: A First Look at Quantum Computing. “Financial services, supply-chain, and healthcare firms will feel some of this as well. We see a market emerging, media interest on the rise, and client interest trickling in. It’s time for CIOs to take notice.”

The Forrester report gives some practical applications for quantum computing which helps contextualise its potential: 

  • Security could massively benefit from quantum computing. Factoring very large integers could break RSA-encrypted data, but could also be used to protect systems against malicious attempts. 
  • Supply chain managers could use quantum computing to gather and act on price information using minute-by-minute fluctuations in supply and demand 
  • Robotics engineers could determine the best parameters to use in deep-learning models that recognise and react to objects in computer vision
  • Quantum computing could be used to discover revolutionary new molecules making use of the petabytes of data that studies are now producing. This would significantly benefit many organisations in the material and life sciences verticals – particularly those trying to create more cost-effective electric car batteries which still depend on expensive and rare materials. 

Continue reading to find out how Quantum computing differs.

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