Archive for Sierpień, 2011

Opinion piece: Better BI for greater adherence to King III

By admin, 29 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

By Sanet Orton, Operations Manager at Cortell Corporate Performance Management

In recent years the turbulent global economy has wrought drastic changes on the business landscape, forcing organisations to either shape up or shut down, and has highlighted the vital role that IT plays in the success or failure of a modern enterprise. On the back of this, the King III report, released in South Africa early in 2010, spoke of the need for IT to be better aligned with business strategy and for greater levels of IT governance, risk management and compliance to regulatory requirements.

These two factors both point to the importance of implementing a mature business intelligence (BI) solution that supports King III, delivering additional benefits.

Better corporate and IT governance relies heavily on having the right information available to the right people to enable them to make sound and timely decisions. As BI aims to support better business decision-making, properly implemented BI tools will provide sufficient data on time to decision makers. Investing in such a tool will not only assist organisations to adhere to the requirements of King III, it will also save companies both time and money. BI also assists with data governance by ensuring the availability, integrity and confidentiality of data, three very important aspects not only for corporate governance but for more successful decision making ability.

IT governance principles dictate that data must be effective, efficient, confidential, should have a high level of integrity and be readily available, compliant and reliable, all of which the proper BI tools will assist with.

However the two main areas where BI delivers on the requirements of King III are transparency and risk mitigation. In terms of transparency, BI ensures that data is available on time and can easily be viewed by authorised users and stakeholders.  By controlling access to data, limiting this to authorised users only, BI mitigates the risk of confidential information leaks and unapproved access. BI also ensures that data is accurate and of high quality, compliance with both legal and regulatory requirements.

BI tools can assist organisations to achieve and execute business strategy by delivering timely reporting on required data. By aiding in measuring performance against strategic and operational goals BI tools also deliver insight to help businesses achieve these goals, enabling better outcomes as a result of sound decisions made based on reliable, accurate and timely information.

In light of these benefits it is easy to see how business intelligence solutions underpin King III principles and can assist businesses to become more effective and sustainable. However it is important to bear in mind that a simplistic solution that focuses on specific divisions, areas or types of reporting, will have limited impact here, especially if it is not implemented enterprise wide. Adherence to King III, regulations and legal compliance requires a mature solution that breaks away from this ‘tunnel vision’ approach to ensure a holistic, ‘bigger picture’ approach to BI across the organisation, and which can be linked into the company’s business strategy to ensure not only efficiency but effectiveness as well.

A mature solution provides a large amount of information to stakeholders, ensuring that data complies with legal and regulatory requirements, and is not just a quick reporting tool harnessed by a couple of users as is often the case with more simplistic BI tools. Added to this, the bigger the solution and the investment, the more interest will be taken by the board and by senior management, which will in turn help to close the traditional gap between non-technical board members and IT managers, enabling better value delivery and effectiveness.

Data quality, however, is often the biggest stumbling block in any BI implementation, as BI tools are dependent on the format, quality and availability of source data. If data is of poor quality, people will not trust the information provided by the BI tool and thus, no matter how large the investment or sophisticated the tool, the solution will not be used.

This means that a large amount of time, money and effort go to waste.

In order to ensure data quality, IT staff need to know not only what data to provide but also why. This will ensure that, if changes are to be made to the system, they will understand the effect this will have on the BI tool as a whole and thus be able to apply better planning, testing and implementation. The finance department also needs to be made aware of the ‘what’ and ‘why’ of information so that the gap between IT and business can further be closed. On top of this, data feeds should be tested continuously to ensure that issues are identified in the shortest possible time frame and not just at crunch time as is the norm.

If data quality can be assured, and a suitable mature solution implemented in an organisation, BI has the potential to provide benefits beyond those traditionally thought of as being the realm of business intelligence. Not only will organisations be able to make better decisions, they will be able to have greater levels of transparency and risk mitigation, be able to better implement and deliver on business strategy, and will have greater adherence not only to the guidelines laid out by King III but also deliver greater levels of governance, risk management and legal compliance.

LLU not the only way forward – Industry Experts

By admin, 29 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Experts look beyond local-loop unbundling for solutions to SA’s telecoms woes

Local-loop unbundling is currently touted as one of the major stumbling blocks holding back the liberalisation of South African telecoms. However, industry heavyweights say they have identified other factors, not reliant on ICASA’s legislations, to take SA telecoms forward.

Alternative telco perspective: Opening up the last mile

“The challenges affecting SA telecoms are related to how greater competition is fostered. The next crucial steps in forcing greater competition will be to break the stronghold that incumbent operators have on the ‘last mile’ access to the customer’s end device,” says Rapelang Rabana, co-founder and CEO of Yeigo Communications and Global Head of Research and Development at the TelFree Group.

“The local-loop unbundling saga, which has been on the cards for more than five years, seems highly unlikely to meet the intended deadline of November 2011. A much easier and quicker win to open up the ‘last mile’ access is to push progress on ‘carrier pre-select’ services. Carrier pre-select is much cleaner and more sophisticated approach to give new entrants access to the ‘last mile’ infrastructure of the incumbent operators to provide telephony services. This would allow any service provider to be reachable from a telephony or cellular line of any of the incumbent operators by dialling a short pre-fix (such as ‘1616’) followed by the number to be reached. This would open up access to ‘last mile’ infrastructure of all the incumbent operators, not just Telkom,” noted Rabana.

Operator perspective:  It’s time to leverage infrastructure and offer services that meet the public’s demands

General Manager of Fixed Mobile Convergence at MTN Business, Justin Colyn, says, “It’s time for CIO’s and CTO’s to enable businesses to become more agile, responsive and ‘mobile’ to ensure growth and scale is attained; that business continuity is guaranteed and that all of the above factors are achieved on a diminishing budget. The only way to really achieve this, given the pace and demands of business, is to drive economies of scale through Cloud Computing, Virtualisation, Converged Infrastructure and Services, and Collaboration. All of these need to be closely controlled and managed through proper telecommunications expense management principles.”

“Given the above, the biggest change affecting the SA telecoms industry is the realisation of Fixed Mobile Convergence which offers businesses and users the choice of working from anywhere, anytime, over any medium, using any device and interacting with anyone. The only way you can effectively achieve the flexibility and economies of scale to take advantage of what technology has to offer, is to have a Cloud strategy for all your ICT requirements,” concludes Colyn.

Solution Provider Perspective: Hosted Contact Centres can be the future

Highlighting the changes in the South African call centre industry over the last few years, Jed Hewson, Director of 1stream, says that with the introduction of VoIP and more stringent financial regulations, the industry has seen a general drive to bring down costs. “The recent deployment of fibre rings, deregulation of the telecoms industry and use of Cloud Computing has meant that the South African call centre industry can take advantage of “hosted” or “on demand” solutions. The deployment of hosted call centres is the biggest change in the international call centre market place, and will ultimately help enable South African call centres to be more efficient and competition.”

United Action

Executive of Communications at Internet Solutions, Wayne Speechly, notes that both technology and regulatory factors against a backdrop of changing enterprise requirements means service providers need to do things differently. “Customers in the SA telecoms landscape are not benefitting from this ever changing environment. The industry at large needs to unite better to truly dislodge incumbents.”

These and other issues affecting the SA telecoms industry will be discussed further by Rabana, Colyn, Speechly and Hewson at the second annual VoiceSA conference -  a free one-day conference and networking event that aims to facilitate open discussion and collaboration around important industry issues.

“VoiceSA is a great initiative for operators of all nature to collaborate, and I’m particularly excited about sharing some of the mainstream restructuring of the market both from a regulatory and technology perspective,” commented Speechly.

VoiceSA will be held on 22 September 2011 in Midrand, Johannesburg. The event is free to attend, however delegates are required to register at www.voicesa.co.za prior to the event.

8ta Maths and science initiative popular among students

By admin, 29 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

8ta launched the maths and science initiative, Educ8, to help disadvantaged grade 12 learners to better prepare for their final year examinations this coming October.

With only five weeks into the initiative, Educ8 has proved to be very popular with seats being sold out already.

The revision sessions started running at SterKinekor cinemas nationwide from Sunday 31 July and will end on Sunday 2 October 2011.

“The overwhelming response proves that there is a hunger for learners to excel in maths and science. 8ta will continue to identify projects that afford us the opportunity to make a real difference in our communities,” said Stephen Blewett, 8ta Executive Marketing and Sales.

The sessions currently assist over 4000 learners every Sunday. Organisers are expecting to help an additional 9 000 learners with maths and 15 000 learners with science. The aim is to help 30 000 learners in total.

The “theatre of learning concept” engage learners in an entertaining and educational networking opportunity. Subject experts are also available at each movie theatre to assist and answer questions from the learners.  Each revision session is filmed from a single venue and broadcasted simultaneously to 15 digitised Ster Kinekor theatres nationwide.

Other partners in the initiative include BHP Billiton SA, SABC, Samsung SA and Primestars (project implementers).

Learners receive course bags, stationary and refreshments from 8ta as well as a comprehensive summary of study notes.

The educators in this EduC8 program are Jacques du Plessis (Mathematics) and Phillip Joubert (Science). Jacques is currently the subject head for the B-Ed Mathematics Education program at the University of the Witwatersrand, and Phillip is the Head of Department for Science at St Benedicts College in Bedfordview.

Vodacom announces App store

By admin, 27 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Vodacom Apps will feature a catalogue of over 140,000 applications powered by Appia, one of the world’s largest open application marketplaces.

This event marks the launch of what Vodacom believes will be an entirely new local South African mobile application ecosystem, complete with the development of homegrown talent and revenue opportunities.

Vodacom Apps will support major mobile platforms including Android, Blackberry, Java, Symbian and Windows Mobile, making it relevant for the vast majority of data capable cellphones and smartphones.  The store will feature a wide variety of apps in various categories such as games, travel and entertainment, business and professional, work and school, and phone tools.

Pieter Uys, Vodacom Chief Executive Officer said:

“The launch of this app store is just the beginning. We’re building an entire community that will supply home-grown apps relevant to the South African environment. With all the talent available in this country there’s no reason we can’t create our own application industry. The great part about this store is that it caters for so many users – in fact, more than 10 million cellphones on our network can run at least Java apps.”

Vodacom Apps users will be able to download free apps, for which standard data charges will apply. In the near future, Vodacom will introduce paid-for apps which customers can pay for using their airtime account.  This means that all Vodacom customers can use the store without the need for a credit or debit card.

All Vodacom customers who wish to access Vodacom Apps can do so from 1 September by visiting http://vodacom.mobi/apps on their cellphones or from the Apps feature on Vodafone live!

“Vodacom’s commitment to supporting and further developing the South African apps market is being taken a step further today through an extensive Vodacom Developer Programme, launched in conjunction with the Vodacom Apps store,” Uys added.

The Vodacom Developer Programme will provide the developer community with technical and commercial support, including training, workshops and innovation incentives over the coming months. This will further stimulate the local development of apps by allowing developers to upload their own developed applications and generate revenue from this.

FNB App now available for BlackBerry

By admin, 27 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Farren Roper Head of Products and Markets at FNB Connect says, “We launched our App with touchscreen BlackBerry smartphones and had an overwhelming response from keypad device customers to make the App available to them as well. We are proud to be in a position where we cover both touchscreen devices as well as keypad devices.”

FNB has also collaborated with Research In Motion (RIM), the company behind the BlackBerry solution, to include the FNB App as a free download to FNB customers using BlackBerry smartphones.

BlackBerry smartphone users will not incur a data charge when using any of the value added services or performing banking transactions on the FNB App.
Roper adds “At FNB we are always looking for innovative ways of bringing down our customers data costs. The BlackBerry application is just another way of making access to our proprietary platforms easier and more cost effective for our clients.”

In addition to BlackBerry smartphones, the FNB App is also available to iOS (Apple) and Android users using Motorola, HTC and Samsung to name a few. FNB has indicated that Nokia Symbian is on the way soon.

WhichVoIP announcers international partnership

By admin, 26 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

The partnership will see the International site leverage off the local operation to extend services into African countries, and allow for Business and Residential users to look toward WhichVoIP to connect them with Solution Providers in their local vicinity.

“We have always seen significant opportunity in Africa for the benefits and cost savings that VoIP brings to users and been eager to formally extend services to these markets. WhichVoIP.co.za will help us achieve this goal a lot quicker and provide the in-country knowledge and expertise to help best serve African users. Our Values and Missions are aligned – we’re after the same things, which is always a strong foundation in a partnership. We’re encouraged and very excited by what the SA guys are doing so we look forward to the Partnership and ultimately helping African users benefit from VoIP technology”, says Mike B, Director at WhichVoIP.com.

Commenting on the Partnership, local site founder, Mitchell Barker said “We are proud to be associated with WhichVoIP.com who lead the way in online VoIP Provider research, comparison and rating services. Each day thousands of visitors from all over the world point their browser to WhichVoIP.com to assist them with their Technology Evaluations, thus easing the Decision making process. The idea of collating competitive information and demystifying the technology by presenting this in a relevant and simple to understand way, means that VoIP Value Proposition becomes better understood, which in turn results in a quicker adoption”.

WhichVoIP.co.za allows users investigate VoIP technology in South Africa, Evaluate providers through a Research Report and Comparison Tool, and produces an accurate Quotation that features an ROI (return on investment) calculation with indicative fixed and variable costs for their chosen VoIP provider. WhichVoIP then close the loop by facilitating an introduction between provider and customer.

The Site also boasts a repository for all things VoIP, and a Forum for users to interact, as well as follow their chosen VoIP providers in the News Aggregation section. There is a Directory of credible VoIP providers, and interesting Articles and Guides.

Mouser Named Harwin’s Global Distributor of the Year

By admin, 26 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

Mouser Electronics, Inc., regarded as a top design engineering resource and global distributor for semiconductors and electronic components, has won Harwin’s Global Distributor of the Year award for 2010-2011.

Mouser was deemed Global Distributor of the Year after being judged in the following areas: New Product Sales and Overall Growth, Marketing/Web, Overall Sales, Stock, Management Support, Admin Support, EDI Orders/Invoices and POS.

“Receiving this Global Distributor of the Year Award from Harwin is a great honor for the entire Mouser team,” states Jackson. “It is a pleasure working with Harwin to distribute their superior line of electrical interconnects to customers worldwide. We look forward to the continued growth of both companies in the future as we work towards our shared goal of bringing design engineers what’s next.”

“Through its dedication to our company and our customers, Mouser has proven itself to be an outstanding partner, and we are proud to name them Global Distributor of the Year,” states Doug Steele, Vice President of Global Distribution at Harwin. “We celebrate everyone at Mouser who has supported Harwin’s product lines and contributed to our overall success.”

With its broad product line and unsurpassed customer service, Mouser caters to design engineers and buyers by delivering What’s Next in advanced technologies. Mouser offers customers 17 global support locations and the latest, most technologically advanced components for their newest design projects. Mouser Electronics’ website is updated daily and searches more than 8 million products to locate over 2 million orderable part numbers available for easy online purchase.  Mouser.com also houses an industry-first interactive catalog, data sheets, supplier-specific reference designs, application notes, technical design information, and engineering tools.

Derek Friend appointed CM of StorVault Africa

By admin, 26 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

StorVault Africa, a leading provider of online data backup and recovery solutions and the distributor of EVault software, a product of i365, a Seagate company, has appointed a new Country Manager, Derek Friend; who brings more than a decade of experience in the IT networking and domestic ISP market segments to the table, having consulted on major projects locally and throughout Africa and Europe.

Friend says it is hard not to get excited about the products we have at StorVault Africa.  “I am passionate about innovation and technology and proud to represent a product that has a proven track record.  i365 holds 32000 clients worldwide and is the global Leader in the $9B market of SAAS products, offering platform agnostic solutions that addresses all industry sectors, sizes of business as well as client data storage and disaster recovery requirements.”

When it comes to growth across all areas of the African market, it is all about data and the cost of data capacity. “As a continent, Africa is able to be much more competitive with the rest of the world as a result of the new undersea cable ventures such as WACS, EASY, and SEACOM.  It is effectively forcing data costs down, allowing more companies to work in the ‘Cloud’ and adopting a ‘SaaS’ (Software as a Service) approach, which poses its own unique opportunities and challenges,” says Friend.

Resistance to change is a very real hurdle to overcome.  “Many IT managers are still ambivalent about the concept, while a large percentage of enterprises on the opposite end of the spectrum are planning to integrate some form of SaaS within the next two years.  Small and Medium-sized Businesses (SMBs) are adopting the technology much more aggressively and in proportion to the growing need companies of all sizes to cut IT infrastructure costs by any means necessary,” explains Friend.

Friend says he is looking forward to the unique challenges that are facing the storage industry.  “I am determined to make EVault, Africa’s first choice when it comes to backup and recovery Software as a Service (SaaS).  StorVault’s managed service offerings into Africa is offered exclusively through channel partners, which extends StorVault’s reach in offering secure, reliable, world-class infrastructure that protects business critical data.  It sets quite a challenge for me to build a comprehensive country strategy that will focus on strategic partnerships by offering superior enterprise technology to guide businesses through an ever-evolving storage landscape,” concludes Friend.

Vodacom obtains second place in CRF survey

By admin, 26 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

The CRF Institute uses international standards to rate companies in South Africa for excellence in HR management.  The results are independently audited by Grant Thornton.

Vodacom was also awarded Best Employer in the Telecommunications sector and ranked sixth out of 69 companies as Overall Best Employers to work for in the country. In addition, the telecoms company was ranked tenth in the Best Empowerment Employer category.

“Our people are central to our strategy and success and we have worked really hard to make sure that our culture is one that promotes collaboration and inclusiveness.  We are so proud to be recognised as the top employer in the telecommunications sector,” says Mpho Nkeli, Chief Human Resources Officer at Vodacom. “It has been an exciting and challenging year for employees, especially with changes relating to our rebrand to red in April. We are very conscious that our employees are our greatest asset.”

In the last financial year Vodacom spent 22.4% more on training and development than the previous year. This included online learning programmes, local training events, global development programmes, bursaries and internships.

Vodacom has implemented various development programmes across the country. One of the most exciting initiatives is the Vodafone Talking Talent Programme, which identifies potential senior leaders and matches their skills to business needs and development goals.

Skills development is vital in the increasingly competitive telecoms sector and developing talent is also a key driver of diversity.

“Vodacom has always been committed to diversity and transformation, but there is still a lot to do,” says Nkeli. “We will continue to strive to better the way in which we approach transformation. Building a fully inclusive culture is fundamental to our sustainability, as the more representative our people are, the better they’ll understand our diverse customer base.”

Microsoft rated as SA’s Best Employer by CRF Institute

By admin, 26 sierpnia, 2011, No Comment

The ranking, released today in Johannesburg, is a unique international HR policy and practice benchmarking project conducted by the CRF Institute South Africa and is the culmination of months of rigorous research with findings independently audited by Grant Thornton South Africa. Organisations are rated in the following areas: organisation strategy; the HR function; communication; diversity management; corporate social responsibility; knowledge management; talent management and engagement; performance management; and rewards and recognition.

Following Microsoft SA (Pty) Ltd in the overall top ten in descending order were: Accenture SA (Pty) Ltd, SAP South Africa (Pty) Ltd, Unilever SA, Ernst & Young, Vodacom Group Limited, Netcare Limited, Peninsula Beverage Company, Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs Inc. and Procter & Gamble SA (Pty) Ltd. A total of 69 organisations have achieved certification this year – 14 more than in 2010.

According to Samantha Crous, the CRF Institute’s Country Manager, the importance of the Best Employers campaign is that it recognises that, in a competitive labour market like South Africa where the business landscape has changed considerably over the past few years, success lies more than ever in an organisation’s ability to distinguish itself by establishing and promoting excellent HR strategies and practices that can attract, retain and engage the right talent.

“The companies that are featured in this year’s Best Employers campaign have shown innovation and creativity in addressing some of the challenges they face in the changing business arena. Adapting to an era built on a lean structure, the corporate world has realised that it’s the value of relationships with employees, rather than the traditional bottom line that counts.

“The latest research shows that more and more companies are turning their attention to engaging employees and have grasped the fact that engagement is about more than simply sticking a few posters on the wall in order to draw attention to certain aspects of an employee proposition. It’s about getting people to believe in the vision of the company and how it does a difference in South Africa and the world,” said Crous.

She added that this is where Microsoft stood out.

According to Jabulani Ndhlovu, HR Director of Microsoft SA (Pty) Ltd, the company’s vision is to contribute to the economic success of South Africa and everyday living of the average South African. “Consistent with the ideals of our founders, to bring technology to as many people as possible, Microsoft South Africa’s focus is that of enabling businesses and South Africa realize its full potential through innovative technologies.

Our people and their potential are key to our vision. We look for people who are extremely passionate about technology and its ability to change the way the world lives and works. We have been incredibly successful in keeping our people vigorously engaged in this purpose.”

He added that Microsoft SA (Pty) Ltd has been able to instil a culture of performance excellence in its employees. “We have big goals, dreams and aspirations for the future. We have great products and services, but our great people are what makes it all come together so successfully,” he said.

Steven Veenendaal, CEO of the CRF Institute commented that the companies certified as Best Employers are establishing themselves as organisations that are forward-thinking and geared towards the future.

“The implications for the employees of such companies are obvious: who doesn’t want to reap the rewards of a carefully thought-out HR strategy, which considers each aspect of the individual and encourages them to give of their best. With such employees on board, success for these organisations is inevitable,” he said.

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