Archive for Czerwiec, 2011

IT will help recovering financial services sector

By admin, 29 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

In a new, post-recession world marked by what will certainly be more stringent regulation, lower returns and enhanced competition, financial services is concentrating hard on information technology to run leaner and meaner – as well as smarter -  in terms of the ability to align itself with what “is coming down the line”.

This is according Warren Knott, sales and marketing manager Data-Afrique, the Cape-based IT solutions company focused on the financial services sector.

Knott said the financial services sector – and the banking sector – are increasingly focusing their attention on adopting smarter technology to stay ahead of competitors and continually refine competitive edges in what has become hyper-competitive business sectors. They are also looking to acquire, or upgrade, technology at “competetive prices”.

“South Africa is not going to be excluded from this trend – and it is a trend that will play out during the next two years. Those players that don’t harness the latest technology – and use it smartly – are going to find it tough going.

“Everyone – from analysts, the consumer, to watchdogs – are watching what is going on in the banking and financial services sector. They are watching with dubious eyes, knowing that reckless lending ultimately led to what was the worst recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.”

Luckily, due to the timeous introduction of the National Credit Act (NCA), the South African bank and financial services industries were not as badly affected as their overseas counterparts. While their profits were maybe not shining, they at least were not haemorrhaging red ink like many of the overseas banks, many of whom had to be bailed out by their governments.

However, while South African banks have emerged relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis – and are ahead of most international peers – a number of challenges remain.

Data rating agency Standard & Poor believes local banks survived the downturn due to their sound risk management practises and adequate regulation, which, to a large extent, shielded them from “toxic US-structured products and foreign debt”.

Knott said regulatory capital ratios for banks are higher on average for developed economies. “In my opinion this went a long way towards boosting investor confidence in the sector throughout the domestic downturn. But, more than that, the National Credit Regulator enforced its affordability tests and interest rate caps for consumer loans – and this helped the local market to stay in far better shape.

“We witnessed far less reckless spending and this held the expansion of credit at bay.

“But,” said Knott, ‘it must be noted that the SA banking sector is not completely immune to risks to its stability and growth – and this is still having a bearing on the creditworthiness of its institutions.

“Additionally, South African banks are struggling to improve their asset quality because non-performing loans (NPL) are remaining on the books longer then originally anticipated. The percentage of total loans classed as NPL is currently reducing very slowly, reflecting the slow recovery of the real estate market and the wider economy – plus the lengthy debt recovery process.”

Revenue, he added, is being further restrained by difficulties in growing the loan book and the long term interest rates. As a result, banks are attempting to rigorously control costs – and this, to a large extent, is where leveraging technology cleverly can help.”

Saying good bye to the traditional contact centre

By admin, 22 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

Increase in number of upgrades being planned across contact centres

Traditional contact centres are set to be replaced by customer management centres as more organisations focus on expanding contact services beyond telephony and email offerings.

According to research results published in Dimension Data’s 2011 Global Contact Centre Benchmarking Report released today, of the 546 contact centres surveyed in 66 countries, 64% are already handling Internet, with 40% managing SMS interactions, and a quarter offering web chat – all via the contact centre.

South African contact centres have less capability in this regard – with 62.3% handling Internet, only 15.9% offering SMS interactions, and 10.1% providing web chat. Some 20% of organisations are planning to provide SMS facilities in the next two years and 37.7% have a plan for web chat.

Siva Pather, Dimension Data’s National General Manager, Customer Interactive Solutions, Middle East & Africa says that the difference in South Africa is partly due to a slower rate of consumer adoption of web chat and online shopping as well as organisations not yet having integrated SMS into their contact centres. “It is also a reflection of both the lack of availability of broadband and the high costs of extra bandwidth in South Africa.”

National GM for Customer Interactive Solutions

Social Media Interaction

This year’s report also reveals that social media interactions are high on the agenda of contact centre businesses. Just over 18% of research participants reported that they’re already managing these interactions, with 32% (including South African organisations) saying they’re planning to do so over the next two years. And with products becoming more commoditised, service is increasingly being used as a differentiator as organisations recognise the contact centre as the heart of the business.

“The evolution of the contact centre to a full service customer management centre confirms that organisations view contact centres as profit generators,” Pather says. “Where contact centres were traditionally regarded as cost centres, almost half (47.9%) of respondents said they regard them as *profit centres – 18.4% of them based upon sales revenue generated (up from 8.6% in the 2009 Report).”

Top Commercial driver: improving service

The research results also show that this year’s top priority commercial driver for contact centres is improving service. “But,” warns Pather, “navigating this evolution will require a strong focus on process automation. Smart devices are dramatically changing the communication landscape and enabling increased numbers of customers to help themselves and decide how, when and where they engage. Organisations will need to embrace smart applications in order to make popular transactions even easier for their customers. That’s because self-service is fast becoming the accepted standard for providing customers with more choices to engage with the organisation.”

Meanwhile, the top priority issue affecting contact centres across the globe is the drive to encourage customers to use these broader self-service channels. “We see a new focus on customer lifetime value (CLTV) management with a high number of respondents ranking it as the number one issue,” Pather says. “This, in conjunction with improvements in customer satisfaction set to replace cost reduction as the prime self-service driver, underscores a renewed business focus on overall profitability.”

Ironically, although more South African than global organizations mentioned CLTV as their number one priority, their practical focus remains cost reduction rather than customer satisfaction improvement. Some 44% of respondents have a strong focus on increasing efficiency, putting pressure on cost.

Globally, however, the report indicates that there’s a significant increase in the number of infrastructure upgrades being planned across contact centres as technologies become more affordable and advances in communications technologies continue to drive flexible change that makes CLTV easier.

“Businesses are pro-actively responding to customer demand while recognising improved service as the top commercial driver,” Pather says. “In turn, they’re using customer management centres as the vehicle to generate better service and revenue opportunities.”

Painless budgeting leaves more time for planning

By admin, 22 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

The Warehouse, one of New Zealand’s leading retailers, is making sure every Kiwi gets a bargain in more ways than one: Thanks to its adoption of sophisticated South African budgeting software, its finance staff are spending less time adding up numbers – and more time planning and testing scenarios for the company’s future.

“We’ve been told idu-Concept budgeting software is the best thing Finance has done for the business in the past five years,” says Finance Manager Tim Mangold. “It’s an excellent budgeting and forecasting system that is also really intuitive and easy to use. It means all our managers, whether they have finance training or not, can complete their budgets on their own.”

idu-Concept’s point and click navigation is a big part of its success, says Mangold. “It’s incredibly intuitive – nowadays everybody is used to finding information on the internet, so the web interface to the system is familiar and easy to use. It’s reduced a lot of unnecessary back and forth between business and finance. In the old days we had four people working solidly on the budget for two months – now it’s one and a half people for three or four weeks.”

As a result, adds Mangold, “the whole dynamic has changed. Instead of spending most of our time doing budget recons, we’re now working at a higher level doing forward planning, modelling scenarios and testing them. It’s taken us away from the pain of making sure numbers add up, to a situation where we’re helping to come up with new strategic scenarios for the company.”

Managers can also use idu-Concept to track their spending, says Mangold. “It has essentially become our reporting system for monthly and quarterly actuals,” he says. “We do the month-end accounting; push a button and people throughout the company can go in to see how they’ve performed against their budget. We’ve linked idu-Concept to a document management system, so if there’s an anomaly in their figures people can drill down in three or four clicks to the actual invoice.”

These abilities are not just theoretical, either: “As system administrators we can see who’s logged in and when, so we know people are using it every day,” says Mangold.

This means that although officially designed for budgeting and forecasting, idu-Concept is also proving to be an effective cost control tool: “It makes all the information about budgets and actual spend very visible, so it helps to maintain accountability – people are more aware about how they are managing their costs.”

“The whole line of sight from capture to presentation is easy to see, simple and understandable,” says Mangold. “It provides a great level of certainty: Whenever I am presenting information about the budget I am confident that these are the real, accurate numbers.”

African ICT Summit 2011

By admin, 22 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

Regional integration is the focus of The 2nd ICT Africa Summit in Tshwane

The 2nd ICT Africa Summit will be held in Tshwane (formerly known as Pretoria) – South Africa, 24 – 26 October 2011 at the CSIR International Convention Centre

After the successful 2010 summit in Cape Town was attended by representatives from more than 12 African countries and international guests, the 2nd ICT Africa Summit will continue to focus on regional integration through ICT.

The 2011 dialogue will be hosted under the theme “Building a smarter continent through ICT networks”.

Last year’ summit attracted more than 200 delegates and was an auspicious event which provided a true platform for African ICT stakeholders to discuss the real issues pertaining to the continent’s economic integration through ICT networks, a platform that revealed the myriad business opportunities presented to Africa today.

Africa is undertaking a number of major ICT initiatives, many of which are regional in nature. All these regional initiatives require significant cooperation between countries to coordinate policy and regulatory frameworks. As such further regional Integration is needed to continue to strengthen various projects on the continent in ICT. After the Connect Africa Conference held in Kigali in 2007, a number of Goals were set for Africa to achieve regional integration in ICT.

“There has to be a platform on the continent that is strongly committed to connecting the Public and Private sectors to synchronise policy and regulatory frameworks with business opportunities sought after by the private sector, and the ICT Africa Summit is the best place for that,” said Rocky Kabeya, Project Manager of the Summit.

Africa needs to work together now more than ever before to achieve regional integration from both the back and front end infrastructure support development to lower costs in accessing broadband and internet connectivity. This continues to be the biggest challenge in closing the gap on the digital divide and will be one of the focus areas of the event. In last year’s presentation on “Unlocking The broadband Economy to Support National Competitiveness and social Inclusion”, Mr Peter Masemola, Director at Cisco Systems South Africa noted the importance of collaboration between governments, businesses and citizens in order to achieve socio – economic growth. “As Africa, we need to plan more thoroughly among ourselves on how to take advantage of these opportunities and natural resources on the continent. The major challenge is our competitiveness, and we need to begin to plan as one and work together as one. There are a few plans afoot, but they are slow in coming to fruition. Collective planning is key”, he concluded.

Mr Sergey Novikov, Head of the Global Research and Analysis Group EMEA at Kaspersky Lab also noted that when it comes to cyber security “There are no standards and global cooperation is problematic”. “The increasing number of connected devices on the continent requires a closer collaboration between various stakeholders in order to ensure maximum protection from cyber threats” he concluded.

Looking ahead, ICT Africa Summit is aiming to position itself as a platform that gives all Africans the opportunity to come together to share and exchange ideas, experience new technologies developed on the continent and beyond. The 2011 event will be held concurrently with the ICT Africa Expo and is expected to host more delegates. “Millions of dollars have been invested into ICT infrastructure in the last 18 months on the continent, and this should continue to bridge the Gap between Africa and the rest of the world and reduce access costs for all” said Moses M Mwanjirah, the Event Director. With major supporters such as MTN Business, Kaspersky Lab, CSIR, APC by Schneider, ICDL, Skyrove, CellSmart, Woolworths, Frost and Sullivan and many more, the event is set to be Africa’s biggest ICT platform.

To register as a delegate or to attend as a partner or a sponsor organization, please contact rocky@ikapamedia.co.za or moses@ikapamedia.co.za. For updates follow us on twitter @ictafricasummit or visit www.ictafricasummit.co.za

Infor experiences 28 percent growth in Q4, expands product line

By admin, 18 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

Infor, a leading provider of business application software serving over 70,000 customers, has posted strong financial results.

For the fourth quarter ending May 31, Infor achieved $130.1 million of total license revenue – growth of 28 percent versus the same quarter last year. Total revenue of $509.8 million for Q4 2011 was 12 percent above Q4 2010 total revenue of $453.7 million. This is the second consecutive quarter of double-digit license growth for Infor and represents continued market share gains in the enterprise applications market.

The accelerated growth was fueled by new products, which resulted in more than 650 new customers in the quarter. “Infor’s recently developed ION integration platform is generating excitement and momentum with our customers,” said Stephan Scholl, executive vice president of Field Operations for Infor. “Our slate of innovative new product and technology releases, combined with our industry-focused approach, is truly separating us from our competitors. ”

Infor saw strong overall growth versus the same quarter last year from a number of strategic product areas and key industries. Major growth drivers in the quarter included:

  • Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) – 35% annual growth
  • Business Intelligence and Performance Management – 84% annual growth
  • Public Sector – 125% annual growth
  • Distribution – 33% annual growth

Infor delivered Infor ION, Infor Workspace and hundreds of product enhancements over the last six months. Since it became available last quarter, many companies have purchased Infor ION, Infor’s unique interoperability platform, to provide common reporting and analysis, workflow, business monitoring, and exception notifications across multiple applications.

Greif, a global leader in industrial packaging, has chosen to standardise on Infor as the company’s preferred applications provider based on the Infor ION platform. Greif will use Infor ION to integrate their existing Infor ERP LN, ERP LX and Infor EAM systems with recently purchased Infor Performance Management, Infor Expense Management and Infor Barcode solutions to improve decision making through increased access to relevant business information.

“The new consumer-grade user interface, enhanced and deep functionality in our target verticals, and out of the box integration are proving to be a winning combination for customers in all geographies,” said Duncan Angove, president, Products, Marketing and Support for Infor. “Speed is a core principle for Infor and we are helping customers adopt new technology, derive value quickly, and move at Infor speed.”

Among the new products and releases Infor has delivered over the past six months are:

  • Infor ERP LN
  • Infor ERP SyteLine
  • Infor ERP VISUAL
  • Infor ERP Adage
  • Infor FMS SunSystems Enterprise
  • Infor EAM
  • Infor Performance Management
  • Infor Sales & Operations Planning
  • Infor CRM Epiphany Shopping Advisor
  • Infor Hansen Mobile 311
  • Infor Expense Management

Infor has also experienced strong growth of its cloud-based applications, with more than 500,000 users running Infor solutions in a multi-tenant cloud environment. One such customer is Gloucester Engineering, a global leader in plastics extrusion and converting, which selected Infor ERP SyteLine for its manufacturing functionality, scalability, risk reduction and longevity offered through the cloud. In addition to Infor ERP SyteLine, Infor’s cloud offerings include Infor EAM and Infor Expense Management.

In its previous quarter ended February 28, Infor announced a plan to hire 400 additional software engineers. Through May 31, 2011, Infor is on track to complete that expansion by year end.

Logikal Consulting now local distributor for Solix Technologies

By admin, 18 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

Logikal Consulting has completed a deal with Solix to become the distributor of their products in South Africa and the whole of Africa. Solix is a US-based leader in Enterprise Data Management and related technology with a 10-year record of success in American and global markets.

“Solix is a global leader in this area,” says Gerald Naidoo, group chief executive at Logikal Consulting. “Data Management is, at once, a highly specialised field and one that is critically important for many of our enterprise clients, especially in financial services.”

The challenge of data management for major companies is a serious issue. It involves both archived data that has to be retained for compliance as well as the common situation of having legacy applications that must be retained or replaced.

“The first Solix product we offer addresses both the primary needs in a single package,” says Mahesh Chavan, CTO at Logikal Consulting. “The Solix ExAPPS is an appliance. It is not hardware that needs software loaded onto it and it is not a software solution that needs to be configured. It is a single device with its own, built-in software that makes Data Management almost a plug-and-play experience.

“It covers all aspects of Data Management, especially the key areas of database archiving and application retirement.” “This appliance solution from Solix is a best-fit in many industries,” says Naidoo. “Firstly, it is cost-effective. Secondly, it is platform agnostic – easily and quickly deployed. Lastly, it answers a range of critical business needs.

“These include: compliance with regulatory and legislative requirements to global standards; management of the major business risks involved in losing data or application availability; and the overall need to achieve these goals in a cost-effective manner. While other solutions offer an end-to-end approach, this can be cumbersome and expensive. It also takes time and resources to deploy and may have limited abilities to answer unique business needs.

Solutions from Solix Technologies support an agile business approach that offers the highest security without unrealistic capital expenditure. “Reports show that the South Africa economy is growing and, with that, there is increasing demand for storage and server capacity,” says Sai Gundavelli, CEO of Solix Technologies. “Our partnership with Logikal Consulting enables organisations to invest in proven data management solutions to meet this demand in an efficient and cost-effective manner.”

“While we are sure that our financial services clients will be the first to take advantage of this offering, we also see enormous potential for the same solution in other business sectors and very much in the public sector – where issues of cost, reliability, service delivery and secure storage are paramount,” says Naidoo.
“This is, quite simply, the world-leading answer to typical Data Management issues,” says Chavan. “Not only is it the latest technology, it is supported by Logikal Consulting and our highly skilled staff of over 250 people. It is the easiest and safest way to handle key aspects of Data Management without tearing down the whole network and all its sytems.”

Thousands audition for Vodacom M-PESA Top Stars

By admin, 18 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

The KZN-based event, which is being held in association with Ukhozi FM and Boxer Superstores, has now attracted almost 5000 competitors since the first audition in Vryheid over six weeks ago.

The inundation of 3221 hopeful DJ’s meant that the judges had to oversee close to 48 hours worth of auditions, narrowing the field to:

  • Zamekile Mkhize (Durban)
  • Thokozani Zuma (Durban)
  • Thulanezwi Shezi (Stanger)
  • Bonginkosi Bhengu (Richard’s Bay)
  • Menzi Xulu (uMlazi)
  • Wiseman Mabida (Durban)
  • Thembeka Hlongwane (KwaMashu)
  • Sabelo Mnikathi (Pietermaritzburg)
  • Thubelihle Gumbi (Gingindlovu)
  • Ayanda Ntuli (KwaMashu)
  • Smangele Maphumulo (Amanzimtoti)

The final two spots in the Top 12 were awarded to Sabelo Mnikathi and Thembeka Hlongwane.

Main judge and Vodacom M-PESA KZN Regional Manager Khanyi Mpisi said that “the Durban audition has been the most grueling and demanding of the six KZN locations we have visited. It was a monumental task to whittle 3221 contestants down to the two Top 12 finalists, and we could not be more excited about the next stage of the competition!”

The Top 12 will now get the chance to broadcast live on Ukhozi FM on the Ukhozi FM Breakfast Show and the Home Drive Show. Ukhozi FM listeners will play a role in choosing which aspiring DJ’s make it through the competition, having to vote off two DJ’s a week in the month following the selection of the Top 12.

The eventual winner of the competition will be crowned as the 2011 Vodacom M-PESA Top Stars Ultimate Radio Presenter at a gala dinner event in Durban before spending an entire year training at Ukhozi FM and then joining the station as a presenter.

Alberts Breed, Vodacom KZN Managing Executive, said that “the amount of hype and support that this event has generated is overwhelming! KwaZulu Natal’s youth have shown themselves to be both talented and ambitious, and this is exactly what Vodacom M-PESA Top Stars was meant to bring out.”

Speaking about the Vodacom M-PESA service, Breed said that “in South Africa, there are millions of economically active people without a bank account. With Vodacom M-PESA, users can transfer money via their cellphones to other M-PESA users without needing to have a bank account. The service has no joining fee, monthly charges or minimum balances, and is easy to use.”

SAP appoints Desmond Nair as SA Channel Director

By admin, 18 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

SAP’s growing focus on its expanding network of partners sees Desmond Nair, ex-Microsoft Business Group Lead, appointed as SA Ecosystem and Channel Director.

Nair has recently been appointed SAP’s first Ecosystem and Channel Director, which will see him managing the software giant’s partner network across Africa, ensuring that SAP’s growing network, reffered to as an ‘ecosystem’, is supported and developed.

SAP considers Nair’s role as an affirmation of  commitment to working ‘indirectly’ through its network of partners. “SAP Africa recognises the important part its partners have to play in the success of its business – particularly on the African continent,” commented Nair. “I share my new colleagues’ excitement about the growth opportunities in Africa, and one of the key aspects of my role is growing SAP’s partner network in Africa, while maintaining and strengthening relationships with the extensive ecosystem we already have in South Africa.”

Nair remains realistic about the challenges he is likely to encounter, particularly when venturing outside of South Africa. “Although we know of the abundant opportunities for doing business in Africa, my key challenge will be to identify where they exist and which potential African partners would be willing to work not only in their own markets, but across the continent too,” he explains. “So in a nutshell, it’ll be about marrying the right tech partners with the right opportunities in the right locations.”

Prior to joining SAP Africa, Nair spent over a decade working for Microsoft, where he oversaw the development of the company’s business in both the South African and Gulf Region. “We are delighted to welcome Desmond to the fold at SAP Africa, both in his new role and as a Board member,” said Pfungwa Serima, SAP Africa’s Managing Director after the announcement. “He brings with him a wealth of experience in building business in new, exciting and challenging regions and we are confident that he will strengthen SAP’s footprint in Africa even further.”

Vodafone completes disposal of stake in SFR

By admin, 18 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

Further to the announcement on 4 April 2011, and following clearance of the transaction by the relevant competition and regulatory authorities, Vodafone today announces the completion of the disposal of its entire 44% shareholding in SFR to Vivendi.

Vodafone has received a cash consideration of €7.75 billion (R75.3 billion) from Vivendi and a final dividend from SFR of €200 million (R1.94 billion). Vodafone and SFR have also entered into a Partner Market agreement which will maintain their commercial co-operation.

The £4 billion associated share buyback programme will commence shortly.

Belkin appoints Tudortech as local distributor

By admin, 15 czerwca, 2011, No Comment

Belkin, a global leader in connectivity solutions, has appointed Tudortech, a leading distributor with a strong presence in the South African market, as its official distribution partner for their extensive product line. Tudortech already hold the South African representation for established brands such as SanDisk, Olympus, Sigma and Leica.

The recent partnership is aimed to further strengthen Belkin’s footprint within the SA market, whereby Tudortech will be distributing the full line of Belkin products and will be responsible for covering all verticals including Retail and SMB, Corporate channels as well as other sectors where Belkin’s product are pertinent.

“We are looking forward to working closely with Tudortech to further support our active regional expansion,” explains Andrew Pepperell, National Account Manager MEA, Belkin Ltd. “The key components to partnering with Tudortech were based on their solid experience and successful history in the country, good channel presence and relationships in both the retail and SMB sector. Furthermore, their effective logistics solutions and a team that understands the SA market extremely well, adds great value to our business.”

Gary Shap, CEO, Tudortech commented: “We are honoured and delighted to be appointed as a new distributor for Belkin in South Africa and look forward to taking this leading global brand to new heights in our region”. Tudortech is an established name among distribution companies in SA and currently deliver products to over 4 500 customers in the retail, IT and telecommunication channels.

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