Archive for Październik, 2010

3D evolution to end in a big bang?

By admin, 28 października, 2010, No Comment

Samsung shares relevant insight with consumers looking to invest in 3D home system technology

It’s no secret that achieving the ultimate viewing experience for consumers is the name of the TV game. From a home theatre innovations point of view, 2010 marks the first year in which 3D technology has actually been commercially available globally. As exciting as this is, it must be understood in context of an evolution, as the technology involved is constantly innovating and will take time to penetrate the local market effectively.

Corrie Labuschagne, Product and Marketing Manager for TVs at Samsung South Africa believes that ‘effectively’ is the key word for success. “It is the responsibility of the industry to ensure consumers investing in 3D technology do so with a good understanding of what is available on the market, what best suits their user requirements and pocket, and how their purchase today will affect their ability to maximise this technology innovation in the future.”

Samsung believes that managing consumer expectations correctly now will lead to relevant purchasing decisions and increased acceptance of new TV technology, which will ultimately increase economies of scale and decrease pricing.

“Consumers must be careful not to buy into ‘innovation’, and sacrifice longer term viability. However, this is easier said than done,” continues Labuschagne. “Deciphering the most appropriate 3D investment is difficult; therefore we have a few basic questions that consumers should ask themselves as a starting point.”
•    What dimensions do I want to be able to use (i.e. Just 3D (blu-ray products only) or must it be interchangeable with 2D as well? For ‘normal’ viewing as we know it?)
•    What screen size do I want?
•    Am I more comfortable with space restrictions (floor m2 and body position) or having to wear glasses?

On the subject of glasses, much debate has surrounded the need or non-need for 3D glasses. Sharing the pros and cons of this could further assist in relevant purchasing decisions. Therefore the following is important to note:
•    The immersive 3D experience is easily lost without the use of glasses where one would need to sit directly in the middle of the TV, rather close too, and have to sit up straight for the duration of the DVD.
•    3D viewing with glasses allows for user comfort – allowing viewers to lie down on the couch or sit up and watch whatever is more preferable.
•    3D TVs without glasses need specifically written content to deliver the 3D effect, which in essence means that all DVDs would have to be specifically made per brand. Meaning that right now – the experience of 3D without glasses is potentially not only restrictive, but expensive too.
•    3D TVs that enable glasses-free viewing only permit the consumer to watch 3D, where the conversion between 3D and 2D is not possible and as such, the viewing of normal TV.

Certainly, as the demand for 3D TV grows so too will the upgraded video games, TV shows and movies be produced to align. Likewise, glasses free 3D TV will become a reality without having to compromise existing TV viewing basics. However this is just the tip of the iceberg, and TV technology innovation is an evolution not a revolution.

“It will take time to develop solutions that will maximise consumers’ viewing, while not crippling their pocket or opinion. For Samsung, educating consumers and managing expectations is therefore the most viable and responsible route to take and we welcome any questions at www.samsung.co.za,” concludes Labuschagne.

When it is ok to quit; and other excuses we accept the unraveling of pirate logic.

By admin, 28 października, 2010, No Comment

MTN Business rebrands UUNET-Kenya

By admin, 27 października, 2010, No Comment

MTN Business, a wholly owned division of MTN,  Africa’s leading telecommunications company, celebrates the integration of UUNET Kenya into its stable, in a move set to improve the competitiveness of Kenya’s business sector through offering them world-class telecommunications solutions, UUNET Kenya has been rebranded to MTN Business Kenya with immediate effect.

“An array of key structures and network transitions has been implemented to deliver standardised service and seamless integration for customers culminating with the official name change, MTN Business Kenya,” said Managing Director Mr. Tom Omariba.

“With the rebrand, one of our core objectives is to open up the region for business with additional value added services offerings,” said Mr. Omariba.

As organisations across the Globe are moving their data to the cloud, MTN Business is building an African cloud enabling MTN Business Kenya to introduce quality business solutions such as server virtualisation and virtual storage to the region. MTN Business Kenya will also ensure the turnaround time of these solutions to the regional market is within international best practice.

Omariba added that this was officially in line with the MTN Business vision of driving industry competitiveness and giving our customers competitive advantages through the use of technology now.”

Omariba’ said the company would continue to provide solutions in the data sphere and would carry Internet traffic from pan-African networks to the rest of the world by leveraging the MTN Business infrastructure.

The Managing Executive for MTN Business, Angela Gahagan said the MTN Business brand was all about leadership, innovation, can-do, relationships and integrity.

“Today we are proud to bring this brand ethos to the Internet service provider sub sector in Kenya. This rebrand reiterates MTN Business’s commitment to offer corporations across Africa and other emerging markets our “360 degree” service offering – an approach designed to give clients peace of mind in their communication needs, pinned on reliability and availability,” she said.

Gahagan said with the pan African and global reach of MTN Business, MTN Business Kenya was now uniquely positioned to assist with the advanced and diverse solutions required by the company’s customers.

Microsoft SA names Intervate Director as Virtual Technology Solutions Professional

By admin, 26 października, 2010, No Comment

Microsoft South Africa has named Troy Gerber, a Director of Intervate in Cape Town and a leading SharePoint evangelist, as a virtual Technology Solutions Professional (vTSP). Troy, as the vTSP for the Business Productivity Infrastructure (BPIO) specialisation in Microsoft South Africa will assist Microsoft to provide front-line pre-sales engineering strategy on complex solutions for Microsoft customers. The move is a strong endorsement of Intervate’s specialist skills by Microsoft South Africa.

Gerber is the first IT professional in Cape Town to join the extended Microsoft team as a vTSP. Gerber will contribute in his capacity as the BPIO vTSP on a part time basis as required by Microsoft. As a vTSP, Gerber has access to online resources and documentation that are usually solely reserved for the Microsoft internal teams. He now has early access to extensive information about all new Microsoft product releases which will benefit his activities co-marketing the SharePoint product group.

Says Godfrey Voegt, Business Productivity Solutions Specialist at Microsoft South Africa: “We welcome Intervate and Troy Gerber to the Microsoft vTSP programme. We’re bringing Troy on board as part our vTSP team because we believe his skills and knowledge of our product set to be of such a high standard that he can evangelise and assist Microsoft South Africa drive the marketing and deployment of Microsoft’s ECM solution offerings”.

“This move boosts the excellent, long standing relationship between Microsoft and Intervate. As the winner of our Partner Award for the Information Worker Competency four years running, Intervate is one of our top partners in the SharePoint space.”

Microsoft’s global vTSP programme was designed to create a deeper partnership with local solution integrators, Microsoft customers in the field and Microsoft sales resources. It enables Microsoft to extend high-performance specialists to customers in areas where it doesn’t have resources of its own on the ground.

Says Marc Fletcher, Sales & Marketing Director of Intervate in Cape Town: “We are delighted to be afforded this position of leadership and opportunity in the market place and I am very confident that Troy will add significant value to Microsoft’s complex pre-sales efforts in the coastal region, which will in turn further develop Troy’s skills and knowledge in the Microsoft ECM solutions led by SharePoint 2010.”

Intervate is a specialist provider of Microsoft-based Enterprise Information Management and collaboration solutions. The company is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner with the Information Worker Competency, Custom Development Competency and Data Management Competency.

Says Gerber: “We see this agreement with Microsoft South Africa as an endorsement of the company’s confidence in our skills. I look forward to working closely with Microsoft in the years ahead to grow the market share of its SharePoint platform in Cape Town, Durban and other coastal regions.”

SMBs should use their VOIP

By admin, 25 października, 2010, No Comment

Voice over Internet Protocol (VOIP) has emerged as an attractive cost-saving alternative for small and medium sized businesses in South Africa.

That’s according to Louise Hepburn, telecommunications product manager at Itec. She says that the growing maturity of VOIP services, coupled with changes in the interconnect regime in South Africa, have made VOIP a viable replacement for premicells (least cost-routing) and analogue fixed-line voice calls in smaller businesses.

Hepburn says that cost-savings on local, national and cellular phone numbers rate as the major benefit that smaller businesses hope to gain from a move towards VOIP.  VOIP providers are able to offer tariffs that are up to 30% lower than the incumbent mobile and fixed-line operators.

She notes that up until now, many small businesses have relied on LCR solutions to help them contain costs, particularly to cellular numbers. But many of the savings offered by LCR have been eroded by the lower mobile termination rates. The faster and more dramatically interconnect tariffs drop, the less of a business case there is for LCR, Hepburn adds.

But VOIP cost-savings are likely to remain constant, even if and when interconnect rates drops, she says. VOIP’s cost-savings are compounded by the aggressive rebates many service providers offer customers for inbound calls as well as the fact that pure per-second billing options are available.

“Call costs in the VOIP environment are transparent and many service providers give customers access to powerful Web-based tools that let them track and manage their spending,” Hepburn adds.

Hepburn points out that the advantages of VOIP do not lie in cost-savings on voice calls alone. The implementation of VOIP is an opportunity for companies to sweep away ageing voice and data infrastructure and replace it with a converged network.

Converged voice and data networks are flexible and easy to manage compared to the separate legacy voice and data networks many small businesses still run.  Rather than needing to lease a traditional PBX at great cost, they can put an affordable IP-enabled PBX in place or even opt for a hosted solution.

IP PBXs are based on industry-standard servers and software, and can be easily upgraded as the business grows, compared to older switchboards. It is also a simple matter to provide new extensions or to move end-users from one desk to another.

Hepburn points out companies can also save money on their telephone line rental costs by adopting VOIP since they can run a number of separate VOIP lines (each with its own number) off one ADSL line.

And finally, whereas many SMBs are today managing lines with Telkom and at least one premicell provider, VOIP gives them the opportunity to rationalise suppliers and get a single bill each month.

“SMBs had many reasons to be sceptical of VOIP in the past, from the costs of the infrastructure and the lack of geographic numbers to the quality of service VOIP providers offered,” Hepburn concludes. “But most of those obstacles have fallen away. Today, VOIP is a mature and robust technology that is delivering significant benefits and savings to businesses of all sizes.”

Most Innovative Payment App

By admin, 25 października, 2010, No Comment

Niel Koekemoer and Werner Janse van Rensburg are the winners of the First National Bank (FNB) and PayPal award for the most innovative application using PayPal’s payment platform.

The prize was awarded to the winners on their submission of an innovative application named BillBox to the PayPal X / FNB Developer Challenge. Billbox monitors receipts and payments for people who share bills.  It effectively keeps track of shared expenses and requests payment from group members.

“Our App is designed for people who share expenses such as students, housemates or holiday and business travel groups. Individuals can also use the application to track their own spending habits,” says Koekemoer.

Janse van Rensburg added, “Having shared bills with housemates for several years, we knew there was a need for a product like BillBox ― and we were our own best customers.”

The competition and award is part of FNB’s on-going commitment to driving innovation in the financial services sector.

“At FNB, we are passionate about innovation and are constantly seeking ways in which we can enhance not only our own products but also foster a new generation of innovators in South Africa, says Michael Jordaan, CEO of FNB.

“Through this competition, it was evident that we have the right skill, drive and potential to develop state of the art innovative ideas and products. The entries received from across South Africa were exemplary and demonstrated the high standards of our innovators,” added Jordaan.

The PayPal X Developer Challenge is designed to highlight the demand for payment enabled platforms and reward innovative uses of PayPal’s payments tools.

The winners will be flown by FNB to attend the PayPal X Innovate 2010 Conference in San Francisco. The conference will feature presentations from industry experts; new product announcements and sessions that will give developers the tools and support they need to create the future of payments.

“Our two winners are a true representation of the incredible entrepreneurial spirit and online expertise we have in South Africa. We are proud to have sent them to the PayPal Innovate conference, says Chris Savides, General Manager, FNB Complementary Online Services.

“Koekemoer and Janse van Rensburg said they attended the Silicon Cape event in Cape Town when FNB CEO Michael Jordaan and PayPal’s Regional Director of Israel and South Africa Oded Zehavi made an announcement about the competition.

“Three hundred and fifty seven hours later BillBox was born, just in time for the closing date of the PayPal X / FNB Developer Challenge,” said Koekemoer.

Moving beyond simple cloud services with Computer Initiatives

By admin, 25 października, 2010, No Comment

South Africa’s Computer Initiatives has partnered with Acumatica to introduce cloud-based enterprise resource planning (ERP) into the local market. Acumatica allows CI to deliver locally hosted cloud-based ERP for companies that require advanced accounting, distribution, and customer management and are interested in low-cost, low-risk, highly flexible and easy-to-procure business software.

Acumatica is a software company that has developed cloud-based ERP and CRM solutions targeted to mid-sized companies. Acumatica’s solutions are suitable for practically any industry including financial services, health care, agricultural, manufacturing and distribution, real-estate, franchising, energy, transportation, consulting services, intellectual goods, entertainment, government, and non-profit organisations.

“The advantages of cloud computing are considerable”, says Ronald Laxton, managing director of Computer Initiatives. “It provides the ability for smaller companies to outmanoeuvre larger ones, the ability to introduce new products and services faster, and the ability to provide technology which accurately matches business needs. That’s exactly what Acumatica has done: it has developed a cloud-based ERP solution that allows even small businesses to run their operations better, at a low cost and with an almost ridiculously short deployment timeframe.”

Acumatica has designed security, availability and stability into its software so businesses can focus on processes and financials without being burdened with technology. “Since we all use cloud services every day, confidence in their security and stability are increasing. Very few people question the security of online banking, for example. And the cloud has proven itself to be remarkably resilient and persistent, protecting data better than if it is stored on a local hard drive.”

Such developments are advancing the case for cloud services which transcend simple applications. “The precedents have been set. Smaller, highly innovative companies today can access enterprise software which was once the preserve of well-capitalised companies,” Laxton notes.

While excited about the prospects which the Acumatica partnership opens up for Computer Initiatives, Laxton takes a bigger picture view of the country. “As bandwidth improves and as the notion of cloud becomes the norm, the way in which companies everywhere buy and use software will change. Already, web-based solutions are no longer seen as futuristic. And even as traditional ERP system vendors struggle to move into the cloud, the users – businesses – are enjoying the opportunity to get real value for their spend on IT systems,” he explains.

Rather than adapting legacy technology for web use, Laxton says Acumatica is designed for the cloud. It also breaks the rules implicit in traditional ERP systems, which are priced by user-count. Instead, Acumatica provides growth-friendly pricing based on server resources, allowing for an unlimited number of users per deployment.

Adding Acumatica to the Computer Initiatives product line, Laxton says, is the culmination of a concerted search for an appropriate web-based solution. “It is forward thinking, but we believe the time is ripe to advance the case for more advanced cloud computing services. In short, Acumatica is ideal for innovative companies looking for the competitive advantage of truly lean IT.”

Negotiating telecoms contracts – are you getting the best value?

By admin, 25 października, 2010, No Comment

By Steven Woods, South African Country President at Compass Management Consulting

Telecommunications form a vital part of doing business today, and in many organisations the cost of this can be in excess of 2% of the company’s turnover, or even more in organisations that spend time proactively contacting customers and prospects.

While 2% does not sound like a lot, when you put this into figures, an enterprise with a turnover of R20 billion would spend R400 million on telecoms alone – a staggering figure that makes telecoms a significant cost item.

The industry itself is still very fast moving, and new technologies are being introduced often. Currently in the telecoms mix we have least cost routing, private networks and Voice over IP (VoIP), with the likes of Skype and Vonage adding to the mix.

Having an understanding of what technologies are out there and being able to effectively negotiate telecoms costs can therefore equate to substantial cost savings, not to mention the possibility of contracting better services that meet the needs of the business more accurately. However, when it comes to negotiating these contracts, there are several common stumbling blocks that can hinder the process.

One of the most common mistakes companies make is to assume that the telecoms provider has all of the power and that the organisation has no choice other than to take the deal that is offered. Locally this was the case until recently, because of the lack of options within the market, but now there are a range of options available and organisations should make certain they exercise the right to choose the best deal at the right price, with the right terms.

Another issue that affects many organisations is a failure to understand what it is they really require, what equipment they have, what they are using and what they are paying for. There may be multiple contracts in place that cover the same services, with different charges being tendered for the same services.

Conducting a baseline assessment can help to address this confusion by delivering a detailed inventory of existing services, technologies and rates. Comparing specific inventory items against their invoices and contracts is the only way to establish effective rates and define usage forecasts in terms of volumes and technologies.

Even without these problems added into the mix, another mistake that is commonly made is allowing the vendor to use its ‘published rates’ as the basis for negotiation or discounting. These published rates can be very misleading, making no allowance for credits, free services, sign-up bonuses, volume breaks or special arrangements.

When negotiating a telecoms contract it is far better to understand the true underlying rates, which are prone to change at any time. A market price benchmark will give a clear indication of the true current market prices that an organisation can expect to pay for services, based on real net rates that are currently being paid.

The actual negotiation process can be a tricky one, with one of the key challenges being to get the right level of attention and focus from the vendor/s. Generally an organisation will be offered a fairly standard contract with a small level of discounting.

The key to increasing this discount and getting the best possible deal is to seriously get the business on the vendor’s radar through escalation with the vendor organisation. Provide written documentation of the contract requirements in terms of rates, quality of service and benchmarking provisions. These terms will then be sent up the chain of command in the vendor organisation for a response.

When seeking alternative service providers it is vital to develop an effective RFP document, which requires a clear understanding and articulation of the business needs. A baseline analysis is essential here to define targets and expectations. Given the volatile nature of the telecoms market, the RFP should also contain a provision for annual benchmarks against market rates. Finally, in order to ensure quality of service, the terms must include non-linear credits for service outages.

Negotiations themselves should be conducted with the two best respondents from the RFP process. Some guidelines to consider include: rejecting the notion that pricing is volumetric, in other words that committing to higher volumes equals a higher price break; ensuring that SLA credits are nonlinear; and negotiating charges relating to implementation, conversion and installation. Also, organisations should not pay for systems before they are up and running, and should ensure that contracts allow for an escape to best contract in case of divestment or acquisition of the business unit.

Internal benchmarking can assist in the negotiation process by providing the organisation with an objective, well-informed, third party analysis from specialists in telecoms and network issues, which can play a valuable advisory role in response assessments.

This baseline, or benchmark, can help to quantify and provide details of the organisation’s actual telecoms spend, and these findings can then be used to drive negotiations with incumbent vendors. The findings can also guide plans for new technology, business growth and expectations for future rates and terms.

In order to effectively negotiate with vendors, organisations need to understand where they are starting from, what contracts are currently in place, what cancellations clauses exist, and whether there are multiple contracts or different rates for the same services. From there it needs to be decided what range of services will be fit for the purpose of the organisation, and a view needs to be established of how requirements will change over time.

Then organisations should decide whether they will get a better deal with one vendor or by taking a multi-vendor approach. By tackling these issues organisations will ensure that the right deal is in place, with the best possible savings and a solution that is fit for the purpose of the organisation.

Nology goes big at SA’s largest broadband conference

By admin, 18 października, 2010, No Comment

Nology, suppliers of quality security-driven broadband, networking and communication solutions, will be showcasing a number of innovative tools and technologies to attendees of the MyBroadband Conference, taking place at Vodaworld in Midrand on 20 October 2010.

The 2010 MyBroadband Conference, titled Broadband and Bandwidth in SA: The future, marks the sixth year of this event, heralded as the premier consumer focused broadband event of the year. Every year hundreds of delegates from around the country flock to the MyBroadband Conference and this year’s event is set to be the biggest yet.

“The conference is free to attend and attracts broadband and internet enthusiasts, ISP owners and telecoms professionals, providing excellent networking opportunities,” says Riaan Leuschner, MD of Nology. “It also offers the ideal opportunity for us to showcase our range of high quality, innovative solutions that offer business and consumer users alike access to the very latest in broadband, networking and communications technology.”

Speakers at the MyBroadband conference include industry experts, CEOs and CTOs from some of the largest players in the South African telecoms market who will offer delegates insight into the latest developments in telecoms and broadband as well as plans in to country for the future. Topics for discussion will include the rollout and challenges of 10Mbps ADSL, trends in uncapped ADSL and broadband, terrestrial and international fibre networks, mobile broadband developments, digital and mobile television and many other subjects.

At the event Nology will have a number of products on display at their stand to meet the needs of both consumers and business users.

“Billion Homeplugs, or Powerline AV Ethernet Adapters, which enable home and SME users to use their existing power lines to create computer networks without the need for additional cabling or wireless signals. It allows users to effortlessly network multimedia broadband applications, offering a cost effective and simple solution,” says Leuschner. “From the Billion range we will also showcase some of their newest ADSL routers for businesses of all sizes, including the 7404VNOX, a Gigabit 4-port ADSL Wireless-N modem router with built in VoIP, a 3G USB port for 3G failover, plus integrated IPSec VPN functionality that allows up to 16 VPN tunnels. Another unique product to be showcased is the 7800GZ, a Wireless VPN router with built-in 3G and ADSL modems.”

“In addition we are proud to be showcasing our Peplink products, a new solution set to our stable. Peplink offers a range of professional multi-Wide Area Network (WAN) routers that can combine up to 13 Internet connections and offers intelligent load balancing, automatic failover and true line bonded site-to-site VPN connections, for unprecedented connection speeds and reliability,” he adds.

Nology will also be displaying a range of new fibre routers, Vibe products – a VoIP QoS system and TR-069 Solution which enables remote auto-configuration of subscriber setups by ISP’s.

To find out more about the MyBroadband 2010 conference or to register free for this exciting event visit: http://mybroadband.co.za/general/conference2010/index.html

Schneider Electric SA’s new country president

By admin, 18 października, 2010, No Comment

Global energy management specialist, Schneider Electric South Africa, has appointed Carl Kleynhans as Country President – Southern Africa, following the international transfer on promotion of the former Country President, Patrick Gaonach, to China as Strategy and Business Development Vice-President.

The appointment became effective on 1 September 2010.

Kleynhans was formerly Vice-President Africa of APC by Schneider Electric, a company created when American Power Conversion (APC) was acquired by Schneider Electric in 2007. Kleynhans was then responsible for business across the African continent, including the Indian Ocean islands and the French Caribbean.

He first joined APC in 1998 after acquiring sound business experience in service-driven industries and having completed formal business management tertiary studies.

Born in Johannesburg, Kleynhans is married with two children and becomes the first South African to head up Schneider Electric in South Africa in many years.

Kleynhans says that his focus will be on putting customers first, ensuring the company plays a leadership role in new or emerging economies.

“Our One Schneider Electric programme is an important vision, which is geared to make it effortless for customers to do business with us. We are cutting out complexities and keeping it simple, presenting one Schneider Electric face to our customers across all of the markets in which we operate.”

He adds that energy management and energy efficiency are key focus areas for Schneider Electric. “We want to help people make the most of their energy at a time when energy consumption worldwide is rising, and to make energy safe, reliable and efficient in homes, offices and factories.

“Energy management and energy efficiency are critical if we are to leave a positive legacy for our future generations. Schneider Electric is therefore committed to helping individuals, businesses and industries to not only reduce their energy requirements and costs but do more with less.”

Kleynhans looks forward to the challenges that lie ahead in these dynamic times. With Schneider Electric’s focus on five businesses – Power, Energy, Industry, Building/Construction and IT – Kleynhans believes it is well placed to make a difference in Africa.

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