Archive for Wrzesień, 2011

Oxford University Press make use of Epson products

By admin, 2 września, 2011, No Comment

Oxford University Press, one of the leading educational publishers in South Africa, has begun a trial rollout of Epson projectors to be used by the organisation’s sales representatives and training staff around the country.

Producing a wide range of quality, curriculum-compliant educational material, Oxford’s range of educational books range from Grade R to Grade 12 as well as higher education textbooks, general literature titles, dictionaries and atlases.

Oxford has more than 1,500 locally published books in 11 languages, written by more than 700 South African authors.

According to Lourens Kruger, National Marketing Manager: Schools at Oxford University Press, the trial rollout will initially see Oxford deploying 15 Epson EB-W8D projectors into its sales force.

Oxford approached Inchbrook AV, a leading supplier and integrator of commercial audio visual communication infrastructures, looking for a mobile projector that included a built-in DVD player and speakers.

“The reason we needed such a specific projector model is that our sales representatives utilise a demo DVD when presenting to potential customers. Providing each rep with his/her own mobile all-in-one projector unit will make delivering their presentations a lot easier and much more professional,” he says.

Francois du Plessis, CEO of Inchbrook AV, immediately recommended the Epson EB-W8D all-in-one projector for its ability meet the requirements from Oxford.

“In addition to sales presentations, Oxford staff will also be able to use the projectors in teacher training workshops, where teachers are trained on their respective curricula and on how to implement the curriculum in their classrooms using our books,” he explains.  “Oxford aims to reach around 12,000 teachers in this initial rollout of projectors.”

Hugh Davies Epson SA’s Business Development Manager based in the Western Cape, says that the Epson EB-W8D all-in-one projector is ideal for Oxford to use as an easy and exciting multimedia teaching and presentation tool.

“Specifically designed to meet the needs of the education sector, the EB-W8D projector provides practical features that virtually eliminate the burden of using IT equipment and external cables, so that presenters can focus on what they do best – getting their messages across effectively.

“Bright and mobile, with powerful integrated speakers and a DivX-compatible DVD unit, this is the most advanced multimedia projector available,” he adds.

Feedback from Oxford on the rollout of Epson EB-W8D projectors has been overwhelmingly positive.

“Apart from their ease of use and compact design, Epson overall build quality, combined with the attractive 3-year warranty on both the device and the globe made the EB-W8D a logical choice for Oxford,” Kruger says.

“With a lower cost of ownership and the improved professionalism these projectors have given our sales and training staff, we’re confident that this trial will expand in the coming months with a nation-wide rollout of these projectors,” he concludes.

Opinion: Communication is the key to IT project success

By admin, 2 września, 2011, No Comment

By Aspire Solutions director Mike Steyn.

For those of us in the IT industry who started our careers as classically trained engineers, there is one question that nags more than any other: How is it possible that the software industry accepts such high project failure rates?

The figures are well known: Depending on which study you look at, anywhere between 50% and 70% of IT projects don’t meet their goals. Imagine if that was the case for civil engineering projects – if 60% or 70% of bridges fell down, or roads collapsed in potholes within a few months, or dams broke. It’s a hard situation to imagine, because there is no way anybody would ever accept it, or anything even vaguely close to it. If only 10% of civil projects failed we’d treat it as a serious emergency.

Why the lower standards for IT projects? It’s not as if the stakes are low: Most of our economy, and the livelihoods of millions of people, depend on working IT systems.

Perhaps it’s been so bad for so long that people in the industry have just got used to it, the same way South Africans have got used to an annual “strike season” that would be regarded as a national emergency in many other countries.

Or perhaps it’s because the costs of IT project failures are easier to hide from than collapsed bridges. Lost productivity, missed opportunities and jobs never created don’t make good TV news images. Even when lives are lost, figuring out that it’s the IT system’s fault usually takes long enough that the focus has moved elsewhere by the time the facts are clear.

Whatever the case, there are no excuses – and in my own organisation we certainly strive to deliver projects that perform far, far better than industry standards.

Project management methodologies like agile development and scrum are a critical tool in achieving this goal.  And the first rule of agile development is that it values individuals and interactions over processes and tools. Software is always ultimately designed to solve a problem in the way people interact with information: If you start any project without an understanding of this actual business problem, you will never recover from that failure.

Data, software, business process and people: These are the key ingredients of any IT system and if you break one link in the chain, you will fail. Miscommunication at the start leads to a fault that needs to be fixed, which highlights something else that needs to be fixed: And pretty soon you’re way over time.

With lateness, almost inevitably, comes increasing resistance. No matter how enthusiastically people have embraced the promise of a project, their acceptance is based on the value that project will deliver. The longer you take, the more that value is undermined, and the more likely you are to face resistance and rebellion at the end.

We all know more than one company that has paid millions to install a high-end system – then tried to cut costs at the implementation phase by cutting back on training or change management. The inevitable result is stagnation, leading to desperate measures like flying in expensive overseas consultants – and several years later, the project is limping along and has cost three times what it would have cost to do it properly in the first place.

This is the single biggest cause of project failure: Not data or software or inadequate specification, but failure to communicate. Any development methodology that addresses communication as a central issue is bound to help.

One of the biggest reasons to get this right is that nobody can afford to wait two years for a solution to a business problem anymore: Value depends on quick delivery.

Of course, being quick doesn’t help if you’re also slapdash: True agility requires discipline. By formally adopting the principles of the agile development methodology, we ensure we meet our own standards of project success.

SaaS Data Storage now Viable

By admin, 2 września, 2011, No Comment

The cost of bandwidth is a major stumbling block for online data backup and recovery solutions, says Derek Friend, Country Manager StorVault Africa.  “Managing costs is of prime concern in the data storage and recovery industry, as there is a very thin line between being competitive and running at a loss,” says Friend.

As data growth increases, so does the demand for data availability and recoverability.  “Companies are becoming increasingly aware of growing business and regulatory demands, but it is not necessarily a focus point until a system failure occurs and precious data is lost.  At this point it is simply too late to do anything about it,” explains Friend.

The question that every business owner, board member or CIO should ask, is how much it will cost the business in rands and cents, if it is unable to trade for an hour, a day or a week?  “I am quite certain they will not like their own answers and should therefore seriously re-evaluate their existing backup policies  to see whether these can protect their mission critical data and keep their businesses running seamlessly and efficiently,” says Friend.

The increasing awareness and value of a ‘cloud’ solution – or Software as a Service (SaaS) – is the most important development the data storage industry is experiencing at present.  It effectively shifts the focus to the economies of scale that are inherent in these solutions, as a major Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) outlay can be avoided through virtualisation which offers an Operational Expenditure (OPEX) instead.  The incredible data explosion that we have seen in the last few years lends itself to an environment where SaaS becomes a viable option that will meet the client’s growing expectations of having on-demand solutions that can restore their data in the quickest possible time with minimal interruptions,” says Friend.

“I cannot stress enough, the importance of ensuring the sufficiency of an organisation’s data storage strategy, and for that reason I recommend a regular audit to ensure that all the elements are in place and functional,” concludes Friend.

Mobiflock rated among top startups by GigaOM

By admin, 1 września, 2011, No Comment

Mobiflock’s parental control for smartphones application will be presented at Mobilize 2011, GigaOM’s mobile web conference, in San Francisco later this year on 26 September.

“Dozens of forward-thinking young mobile startups applied to Mobilize 2011 LaunchPad, but these 10 companies stood out for their innovative technologies, executable ideas, and strong business models,” said Kevin Tofel, Mobile Editor at GigaOM and chair of Mobilize 2011.

In addition, Mobiflock today announced the launch of its parental control service for Android phones. This means the child safety service is now available for almost 60%* of the global smartphone market. Mobiflock helps to make smartphones safer for children by giving parents visibility of how their children are using their phones, as well as providing blocking and alerting capabilities to protect their children from harm.

Although child safety and parental control services are established good practice in the computer world, they are only now also becoming available for the mobile device. A Carphone Warehouse and YouGov study in the UK showed that 85% of parents don’t use parental control services on their children’s phones. In addition, nearly half of all parents were unaware that adult content can be accessed by mobile phone.

Mobiflock has been specifically designed for the mobile environment and its particular challenges. Some of the existing dangers children might encounter, including bullying, accessing inappropriate content and sexual grooming, have spread to the online mobile environment. In addition, newer risks to children are emerging thanks to the popularity of the mobile phone, such as sexting, mobile chat or being online late into the night. What’s more, a mobile phone is a very personal device and is often carried by the child 24/7 – further exacerbating the impact and potential of these threats.

“The digital generation gap that exists between children and parents today is unprecedented. This is impacting moms’ and dads’ ability to be effective, proactive parents,” said Patrick Lawson, Mobiflock’s founder. “As a first step, parents need to learn about how their children use their smartphones so that they don’t over-, or under-, react if the child does encounter a dangerous situation. This way parents can educate their children about how to cope with online threats.

“And until children are old enough to cope by themselves, parents need to protect their children from the dangers that do exist, while still giving them the benefits of having a mobile phone.”

Mobiflock encourages parents to discuss the use of the service with their children, and a small icon appears on the handset when Mobiflock is active so the child knows they are protected.

BlackBerry hosts Masters of Rhythm Finals

By admin, 1 września, 2011, No Comment

This year’s Masters of Rhythm final is themed ‘Salvation’ and promises to be the pinnacle of dance and hip-hop.

Masters of Rhythm is the largest youth movement in the southern hemisphere.  A proudly South African hip-hop dance festival, it is a celebration of youth expression, fashion, creativity and talent.

South Africa’s elite dancers, MCs and crews will square off in beat-boxing, scratching, graffiti, rap, spoken word and hip-hop dancing contests. What’s more, Khuli Chana, Aka, L-tido, Kwesto and Storm will all perform live at the event.

The hip-hop dance festival, which culminates with an electrifying grand finale will also see the winners of the BlackBerry Youth campus events competing for the grand title of the category winner. BlackBerry hosted lunchtime Hip-hop university campus events across South Africa and offered students the opportunity to express themselves with beat-boxing, scratching, graffiti, rap, spoken word or hip-hop dancing. Those that impressed the judges with their ability to “Speak BlackBerry” won a slot in the final competition.

The BlackBerry university campus activations have enabled new and young talent to emerge in the Hip-hop scene and have given the finalists the opportunity to take part in the ‘BlackBerry Masters of Rhythm’ Grand Finale.

Now, the best of the best will compete for the grand cash prize in the BlackBerry Masters of Rhythm championship. Last year’s Masters of Rhythm Grand Finale drew more than 10,000 people.  This year, prizes for the winners include 28 BlackBerry Curve™ 8520 smartphones.

Tickets cost R150 and are available through Computicket.

BlackBerry Secret gig hosts U.K. star

By admin, 1 września, 2011, No Comment

Tinie Tempah, the UK’s biggest selling artist of 2010 and BlackBerry fan, will host a once-off performance at a secret venue in Johannesburg on Saturday, 10 September 2011

Tinie has become a household name with popular hits such as Written In The Stars. His debut album, The Disc-Overy, was released in October 2010 and has featured collaborations with some of the hottest artists including Kelly Rowland, Ellie Goulding, Wiz Khalifa and many more.

Money can’t buy you entrance into the Tinie Tempah BlackBerry Secret Gig and you will have to earn your ticket for this once-in-a-lifetime event.

Entry to the competition is possible though the Broadcast my Life show on 5FM. Just listen to Grant and Anele’s show weekdays from 12pm – 3pm until 7 September.

Alternatively visit the BlackBerry Golden Ticket Tracker.  This site allows you to find the tickets to attend the BlackBerry Secret Gig with tips and clues to help you look in the right direction for your tickets. You can also enter through Student Village  or Rage Festival South Africa.  Also keep an eye on the BlackBerry Facebook page  in South Africa for more information and your chance to win your tickets to the Tinie Tempah Secret Gig.

There are two VIP Superfan packages up for grabs through the Tinie Tempah Ticket Tracker and 5FM Broadcast My Life. The Superfan package includes all-access tickets to the gig, a chance to meet Tinie and get a photo taken with the star, as well as a VIP shuttle to and from the party venue for the winner and a partner. They will also be treated to one night’s accommodation for Saturday, 10 September 2011, and return flights into and out of Johannesburg if the winner is from out of town.

The competition runs until 8 September 2011.

Opinion: The new virtual reality of the contact centre

By admin, 1 września, 2011, No Comment

By Hannes van der Merwe, Mitel product manager at Itec, who says that the growing maturity of virtual contact centre solutions and improvements to South Africa’s telecoms infrastructure are turning decentralised or virtual contact centres into a real option for the first time.

When most people think of a contact centre, they think of a massive, bustling office with long lines of desks hosting hundreds of agents frantically fielding customer calls. In the near-future, however, contact centre agents are as likely to work from small decentralised offices or their homes as from giant call centre facilities.

Van der Merwe says that rising business costs – including rental – are prompting companies to look at ways of streamlining their call centres to save money. In this context, the virtual or decentralised contact centre has become an increasingly attractive option for businesses.

“A virtual contact centre is a perfect fit for the ‘do more with less’ business philosophy that companies embraced during the economic downturn,” says van der Merwe. “Rather than renting a massive facility with a huge infrastructure, companies can decentralise their operations for flexibility and efficiency. With the right solutions in place, mobile contact centre agents can operate from anywhere but still deliver great customer service.”

Van der Merwe says that apart from the obvious cost-saving benefit, a decentralised contact centre offers a number of other advantages to businesses. They can tap into a national base of skills rather than needing to recruit agents only in centres where they have facilities.

That means they can source people with rare skills more easily because they have a bigger pool to draw on – a major benefit for call centres in the financial services or technology industries that need skilled agents. Calls can be routed to the agents that have the skills to manage them, wherever they may be in the country.

Another key benefit of the virtual contact centre is its inherent scalability, says Van der Merwe. Companies can easily provision new call centre seats as their business grows without worrying about moving offices as the team grows. They also have the added flexibility to easily scale their call centres up in response to events such as new product launches or busy retail seasons and down in quieter times.

Business continuity is another compelling reason for decentralising a contact centre, Van der Merwe adds. There is no danger of ending up short-staffed because the call centre building burnt down or workers got stuck in unusually bad traffic.

The softer benefits of virtual contact centres should also not be underestimated in an industry noted for high levels of staff turnover, says Van der Merwe. A remote work arrangement boasts employee satisfaction by giving agents flexible working hours and freedom from commuting through the traffic and paying exorbitant toll gate fees.

This can result in better staff retention, less absenteeism and lower training costs, he adds.

Van der Merwe says that it is lower Internet costs and improvements to the country’s broadband infrastructure that have made virtual contact centres viable. “We can now offer IP telephony solutions that are both affordable and reliable for end-users of small to medium businesses as well as larger corporate enterprises,” he notes.

In addition to rock-solid VOIP solutions, companies also need to have automatic call distribution, virtualisation and call routing solutions in place to roll out virtual contact centres.

AfricaCom Awards 2011 expands categories

By admin, 1 września, 2011, No Comment

The AfricaCom Awards 2011 are will take place in Cape Town on 10 November in the evening.  Previous awards categories such as The Changing Lives, The Best Marketing Campaign and the Best Pan African Initiative Awards, will be bolstered by the introduction of six new categories acknowledging the growth and importance of the telecoms and digital sectors across the African continent.

The six new categories are:

  • The Rural Telecoms Award – which recognises an outstanding vendor solution, or operator/service provider initiative or service and which has extended and/or improved telecommunications services in rural and under-served Africa since November 2010.
  • The Best Backhaul Solution for Africa Award – This award recognises a fibre, satellite, or wireless solutions provider that has significantly improved backhaul capacity, with measurable improvements in quality and reliability of service, for an operator in Africa since November 2010.
  • The Customer Service Excellence Award – recognises an operator/ service provider that has ensured an excellent or greatly improved level of customer service to African consumers since November 2010.
  • The Satellite Service Provider of the Year – recognises a Satellite operator that has made a significant contribution to improving coverage/ capacity/ cost of access, etc and has thereby improved telecommunication service provision in Africa since November 2010.
  • The Best ICT Solution Provider for Enterprise Markets in Africa – recognises an ICT solutions provider that has delivered the most innovative and measurably successful service or solution for a customer in Africa’s enterprise markets (public sector, financial services;
  • The esteemed Orange African Social Venture Prize – entries for this award must be made directly to Orange.

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