Archive for Wrzesień, 2011

Planet Electronics uses Business One starter from SAP

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

Planet Electronics is among those to recently implement the solution and the company is already seeing improvements in its business processes around the importing and distribution of automotive electronic accessories and household audio equipment.

The SAP Business One Starter Package is a preconfigured solution – for one to five users – that can be tailored further to meet business needs. “We’re delighted with our recent purchase and installation of SAP Business One,” says Planet Electronics’ director, Guyck van Heerden. “The Starter Package option was more affordable and the out-of-the-box application met our requirements near-perfectly – particularly in the areas of serial number management, standard report availability and overall ease of use.”

The business improvements enabled by SAP Business One’s leading edge technology became apparent early on according to Guyck: “With SAP Business One we have been able to significantly shorten our return and re-delivery cycles.”  The SAP Business One Starter Package is a lighter version of the industry-proven application designed specifically with SMEs in mind. It retains much of SAP Business One’s feature-rich functionality and provides accounting and financials, sales, purchasing, inventory management and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) at an affordable price. Built-in business intelligence combined with reliable data allows managers to make better business decisions.

The Starter Package version of SAP Business One is further geared toward rapid implementation with Planet Electronics experiencing quick time-to-benefit results first hand. “We are pleased with GSD’s proactive and accessible implementation approach and we’re very happy that the solution has come in on time and on budget. All completed in 3 weeks from start to go live – amazing.” This fast-tracked deployment approach for the Starter Package resulted in Planet Electronics realising a reduction in implementation costs to just 20% of a typical SAP Business One project.

According to Pankaj Pema, Head of Business One at SAP Africa, the rationale behind SAP’s new offering is simple. “The SAP Business One Starter Package is ideal for both new and smaller companies that need more than just regular accounting software because of the operational challenges arising from the rapid growth they are experiencing. Planet Electronics’ decision to implement SAP Susiness One was based on their need to improve internal business process efficiencies whilst bringing about tighter stock control and management with a long term view towards supporting business growth. To us this is another example of how SAP solutions continue to help companies become Best Run Businesses”.

In conclusion, Planet Electronics chose SAP Business One because of its functional capability to meet business requirements, reliability of the application and technology, powerful yet easy-to-use functionality and because SAP is a trusted name in business applications.

Opinion: Animating (and negotiating) the angel investment scene in South Africa

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

By Wesley Lynch, CEO, Realmdigital and Brett Commaille (co-founders of MyTrueSpark)

Angel investors play an important part in making funding available to businesses at an early stage. In the UK, angels provide about £750 million in annual funding (R8.2 billion) to SMEs – the single largest source of early-stage capital in that country.

Early-stage funding can have a great impact on the recipient. High-growth industries in particular, such as technology, can benefit from it on a large scale. While the US lost 1.3 million jobs from 2009 to 2011, a star turn of funding-backed tech start-ups swelled their ranks impressively – LinkedIn added 79% of its 1 300 current employees, Groupon 99% out of a total of 7 100, and Zynga 92% out of 2 200.

Conducive environment

But angel investment requires an environment that encourages its activities. In the US State of Louisiana, a law offering tax credits to angel investors spurred investments of $62 million in 57 companies between 2005 and 2009.  The UK tax regime sees angel investors receiving immediate deductions of 30% of their investment, with no tax on investment gains for investments held for more than 3 years.  The incentive is quoted by many UK angels as a key initiator of their investment and the UK government is currently in consultations to increase incentives to ensure even further support to the very early stage businesses. Add to this that the British Business Angels Association (BBAA), together with the UK Regional Growth Fund, launched a GBP50m Angel Co-investment fund whereby government directly supports Angel Investment.

On the opposite end of the scale, the South African early-stage investment scene is not nearly as conducive with no formal incentives, either tax or other, yet in place. As a result, only about eight angel funded deals are reported each year. While certain incentives are being considered, the government would do well to see the impact that angel investment into SMEs and high growth potential businesses has had globally, and create far reaching incentives to drive private capital into this investment sector. The recently launched Job’s fund specifically excluded start-ups, missing a clear opportunity to provide much needed support in a very promising sector.  Clearly, resolving the problem at national policy level will help stimulate angel investment deals in SA, going a significant way towards achieving some of the government’s growth objectives

Succeeding with getting funding

Meanwhile, what can start-up enterprises do to increase their chances of success? In truth, many do not appreciate the amount of research and information needed to support their application and are genuinely surprised when they’re rejected by the few sources of funding out there.

Very often their failure has little to do with the product, and much more with the way it is presented. A crucial component to include in the case for funding is an indication that the applicants have a thorough understanding of their target market, the opportunity, the competition and the business model, backed by adequate research and experience.

Ask someone

Entrepreneurs should get help with their applications, from someone who has represented investors successfully before, in order to increase their likelihood of success. The right consulting partner will assist the business with a realistic business strategy to enter and grow in its target market and, where appropriate, raise funding to further this process.

In the latter regard, it is advisable to find a partner with the right VC and angel investor networks. Of critical importance here is the ability to help match business objectives to investor expectations.

Why it’s hard, even with help

Many firms support start-ups with various offerings, all of them playing an important role. Most however struggle with obtaining funding for their charges, due to the limited number of funders willing to invest in early-stage businesses and the highly specific mandates of those that do provide it.

Ultimately what is needed is more angel investors to build a mature eco-system for start-up funding, which caters for applicants at all the different stages of business development including seed stage, start-up and growth phase businesses.

There have been repeated calls for new blood among SA’s angel funders, namely benefactors who are willing to invest small amounts at a very early stage, thus helping to build the experience needed to qualify for later-stage funding from VCs and growth capital funders.

Things are improving

For now, angel investment remains under the radar, difficult to access and at best ad hoc in their funding.

But entrepreneurs shouldn’t despair. The market for early investments received a much-needed boost with recent exit deals brokered for SA start-ups by PoweredbyVC (HBD’s fund managers). This again proves that start-ups with the right support and investment have it in them to attract the right exit partners – including Fortune 500 companies.

More help is at hand, with other recent additions to the angel investment scene. These include AngelHub, a new angel investment group currently being finalised.  Start-ups should take advantage of these new opportunities, while also considering some of the aforementioned guidelines. SA’s angel investors may yet fulfil their potential for boosting high-growth industries and significant job creation.

NDrive for android get critical update

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

NDrive has deployed a critical update to their more than half million Android users. As it stands in contemporary app stores, sink or swim is not only the name of the game – but a mantra to live and conduct business by. Key metrics for success in the ‘Travel & Local’ Android category have been derived through constant listening to its customers requests and comments. From the data provided they’ve determined key metrics for update success in three distinct areas which are targeted for their Android update.

Improved Integration:
• Native Android OS keyboard
• Support of multi-touch gestures
• Better Android OS integration (multitasking, battery-save mode, etc.)

New features:
• Traffic on the map (busy streets will be highlighted with red and yellow)
• North-Up mode
• Improved compass for pedestrians, that will rotate map on the screen after rotating phone

Performance improvements:
• Dynamic zoom (still while playing with map, auto zoom/auto jump while driving)
• Button for 2D/3D modes
• Button to return to current location

According to their Android developer account statistics, approximately 48% of their Android patrons are actively updating their OS and reacting positively to update prompts. They expect that a similar amount will download their latest version within the next week.

Cellfind introduces new miStatement for cellphones

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

The miStatement solution helps organisations reduce printing and postage costs by sending clients their account statements electronically each month. Because miStatement cuts paper out of the billing process, the service assists companies in reducing their carbon footprint.

By utilising miStatement, anyone in South Africa who owns a cellphone can experience the convenience of electronic billing. Customers have immediate, secure access to their bills and are able to request historical information via an USSD or SMS short code.

Says Jacques Swanepoel, MD of Cellfind:”This solution enables companies to speed up their customer payment cycles, as customers do not need to wait for bills to arrive in the post. They will also know whether a statement has been delivered or not, as opposed to worrying about statements going missing in the post.

“In addition, miStatement helps companies to get their statements to clients with out-dated address details, or who do not have a formal fixed address,” says Swanepoel. “It can reduce inbound calls and takes pressure off the call centre, as many requests are for old bills or for the most recent account that has not yet arrived.”

miStatement caters for various mobile statement delivery methods like SMS, MMS and USSD, allowing for statement data to be actively pushed by a corporate to its customers. Additionally, it allows customers to retrieve current or historical statement data from a company’s billing platform, via their cellphones at their own convenience.  Corporate customers have the option to make use of their own infrastructure or to utilise Cellfind’s services which is securely hosted by Internet Solutions (IS) or Vodacom Business.

The service complies with the guidelines issued by the South African Revenue Service and the Electronic Commerce and Transactions Act.

Triple4 gains Fujitsu partner awards

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

The awards were made on Thursday 22 September 2011 at the Fujitsu Boot Camp at Birchwood Hotel on Gauteng’s East Rand.

Triple4, a provider of innovative infrastructure solutions, only became a Fujitsu partner during the past 18 months. “Our hosting business is expanding rapidly and we simply were not getting the right level of support and service from our previous supplier. We therefore entered into a partnership with Fujitsu which was prepared to give us the support we need to expand rapidly,” explains Scott Orton, sales director at Triple4. “In the last year we were able to set up three data centres, one for ourselves and two for clients, with Fujitsu’s help. I think the Best Newcomer of the Year award recognizes the depth that this partnership has already developed, despite its relatively short duration.”

Orton says that he is particularly proud of the Best Systems Innovator of the Year award because it recognises the innovative approach to solving client problems that lies at the heart of Triple4’s success.

Head of Channel for Fujitsu, Fred Saayman, concurs. “It’s very clear to us that the Triple4 team uses our technology in highly innovative ways, really seeing its full potential and then applying it to deliver excellent solutions to the client. This award recognises their ability to stretch our technology to its full extent,” he says.

“I’m very proud that the Triple4 team was able to win two awards from Fujitsu after such a short time—this shows the kind of energy they have put into building this relationship, and the value that both parties place on it,” Orton concludes.

ICASA to host IIC conference in October

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

This will be the second time that the IIC has been present in South Africa, the previous occasion being its 33rd Annual Conference in 2002.

Recent strides in broadband connectivity (the landing of undersea cables in Africa being the latest example) open the possibility of connecting the world in hitherto unforeseen ways, holding out the prospect of widespread economic, social and cultural benefits. Everywhere  governments and industry alike are now grappling with critical issues such as how to secure the huge infrastructure investment for broadband networks, achieve optimal and equitable use of spectrum, develop new content services and applications, and lay the foundations for mass – if not yet universal – broadband uptake against a backdrop of economic challenge and in some cases real deprivation.

The IIC’s Annual Conference will offer the opportunity to senior industry, government and regulatory representatives and other experts from around the world to share their insights into recent developments, debate the market, public policy and regulatory implications, and suggest pointers towards future outcomes.

Issues for debate will include:

  • To what extent could economic and financial limitations in many countries undermine the social and economic benefits of broadband development and digital services generally?
  • How to overcome the impediments both to widespread broadband roll out and consumer take-up? Can this be achieved without hindering or distorting competition?
  • How realistic is universal broadband access?
  • What can media players and, at grass roots level, local communities do to shape their communications futures on the internet, in radio and TV, or in new services such as mobile banking? What role can government innovation policy play?
  • In what ways is the traditional model of separate media and telecommunications regulators challenged by the new communications environment? What changes are needed to regulatory processes and performance, to the relationships between different regulatory bodies and to the interface between regulators, policy makers and industry players?

Keynote speakers include HE Radhakrishna (Roy) L Padayachie MP, Minister of Communications, South Africa (welcome address); Linus Gitahi, Chief Executive Officer, Nation Media Group, Kenya; Lazarus Jacobs, Chairperson, Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia; Fabio Leite, Deputy Director, Radiocommunication Bureau, International Telecommunication Union; Dr Sreedhar Sarma, Chairperson, Telecom Regulatory Authority of India; and Simone Scholze, Executive Superintendent, Anatel, Brazil.

Other speaker highlights include: Dr Martin Cave OBE, Visiting Professor, Innovation Studies Centre, Business School, Imperial College, UK; John Kotsaftis, Chief Executive Officer, DStv Online; Paul Mitchell, Senior Director, Technology Policy, Microsoft Corporation; Professor John S Nkoma, Director General, Tanzanian Communications Regulatory Authority; Dr Robert Pepper, Vice President, Global Technology Policy, Cisco Systems; Michael Yap, Deputy Chief Executive (Regulatory) and Executive Director, Interactive and Digital Media Programme Office, Media Development Authority of Singapore.

ISPA invests in SA entrepreneurship

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

ISPA has set up a non-profit Section 21 company with the support of UniForum SA, WAPA and ISOC-ZA called IDEA (Investing in the Development of Enterprise Advancement) as well as a beneficiary fund called the Foundation for Internet Development.

These two entities will enable ISPA members to donate time, money and skills towards enterprise development and socioeconomic development.

They will be able to contribute towards the growth of black-owned ICT businesses through these vehicles in a manner that will benefit their broad-based black economic empowerment scorecards.

Said Jenny King of ISPA’s eDev Working Group, “ISPA is deeply committed to the growth of entrepreneurial Internet businesses in South Africa, particularly those owned by black-owned entrepreneurs. Through these new vehicles, we hope to seed the next generation of BEE technology entrepreneurs while helping our members to meet their scorecard targets.”

The Foundation for Internet Development is ready to start facilitating and accepting enterprise donations from ISPA members and is currently in the process of building its website.

ISPA members can support both projects through rendering professional services for free or at discounted rates as well as by donating money to the beneficiary fund. The Foundation will in turn make financial contributions to qualifying enterprises through grants, interest-free loans or minority equity investments. Any assistance provided by members will be claimable against a BBBEE scorecard for both Enterprise Development and Socioeconomic Development.

Softline release Sage global survey results

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

Polling over 10,000 businesses across Europe, North America, South Africa and Asia, the research shows that whilst there is a general decline in confidence in global and local economies, businesses remain cautiously optimistic in their own growth prospects.

The research, which included 2,026 South African small to medium size businesses, was carried out by Populus, a UK based opinion and research consultancy firm. The global survey results revealed that business performance held steady or improved over the past six months and that despite economic challenges ahead, businesses are looking to invest for growth in the next six months.  Businesses are also calling on their governments to provide more support by reducing the red tape which they say is stifling both their growth and a general economic improvement.

Economic confidence – overall decline with some positive signs at country level

Across the board, businesses said that compared to six months ago, the global economy was in decline with the average index score declining 15% to 44.47.  In respect of their local economies, business confidence was higher with an index score of 47.11; however this is a sharp decline from the 57.17 previously scored.

South African businesses rated their own business prospects positively at 62.58. This is in sharp contrast with their index scores for the South African and the global economy which were much lower at 44.10 and 45.92 respectively.

Commenting at the official results presentation in Johannesburg today, Ivan Epstein, CEO (and co-founder )of Softline and Sage AAMEA (Asia, Australia, Middle East and Africa) said, “Looking at the results against an international backdrop, South Africa scored the second highest index rating of all the countries polled in terms of individual business confidence. Entrepreneurial spirit and business culture was identified by businesses as one of the most important aspects for doing business successfully in South Africa. This endorses my strong belief that South Africa is a breeding ground for successful entrepreneurs and small businesses.”

Business performance and challenges – revenues maintained, cost challenges

In terms of international business performance there was some positive news with over two thirds of businesses surveyed showing either steady or improving revenues over the past six months. Only 12 percent of businesses said they were forced to reduce their number of employees.

In South Africa, 75 percent of businesses polled showed either steady or increasing revenue. Employee numbers remained consistent with 50 percent of businesses reporting that they had not increased employee numbers over the period.

The biggest challenges identified in the survey of the past six months were the rising cost of energy, fuel and raw materials (53percent); winning new customers or accessing new markets (47 percent); maintaining or growing revenue (41 percent); and managing cash flow (37 percent). South African businesses cited similar challenges with political instability emphasised as a further concern.

Future plans – invest to grow

In terms of investment priorities looking forward, 41 percent of South African businesses intend to invest in sales and marketing 37 percent will consider diversifying into new markets and 32 percent will invest further in training and/or the launching of innovative products and services.

The role of Government – bureaucracy remains a hindrance.

Businesses are in agreement with the factors that restrict them – irrespective of country the least favourable aspect of doing business is government bureaucracy and legislation, followed by governments handling of economic challenges.

Over half (53 percent) of South African businesses polled say that government bureaucracy and legislation is one of the least favourable aspects of doing business. When probed further, 62 percent of businesses stated employee and labour law whilst 48 percent said procurement and tender procedures for public sector contracts were the most cumbersome aspects. Smaller businesses further cited a lack of sufficient support and advice.

“We want to represent an honest picture of the realities facing businesses every day and most importantly define how Softline, Sage, governments and industry can further support small and medium sized businesses in both South Africa and around the world,” concluded Epstein.

XConnect Ranks Fifth on Sunday Times survey

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

The list ranks Britain’s 100 privately-owned technology, media and telecoms companies with the fastest-growing sales.  Locally, Multisource partnered with Xconnect UK to launch South Africa’s first neutral interconnect point and is experiencing similar growths and market acceptance as their highly awarded UK counterparts.

This is XConnect’s first appearance on the list, with reported annual sales growth of 172 percent over three years. Earlier this year, XConnect announced that increased demand for its innovative IP-based interconnection services for telecom operators and networks worldwide had resulted in major growth in revenue and traffic.

“To be ranked fifth among the 2011 Sunday Times Tech Track 100 is a tremendous honour, and I am very proud of the dedicated work of our talented team,” said XConnect CEO Eli Katz. “This achievement represents XConnect’s leading position in the exploding market for global IP federation interconnection, triggered by the evolution to multimedia IP services such as HD voice and video communications.”

Katz added, “With customers spanning Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas, we are a truly global company, delivering essential services to major operators and enabling the mass-market adoption of multimedia communications.”

Scott Dodds, General Manager, Business Strategy and Marketing at Microsoft, the title sponsor of the Tech Track 100, said: “Privately-owned technology companies are making a great contribution to the economy, despite difficult trading conditions. It is especially encouraging to see that cloud computing continues to provide such significant opportunities by helping technology firms to open up new markets and cut costs for their customers.”

FD adopts FTI brand for EMEA region

By admin, 28 września, 2011, No Comment

FD now will be known as the Strategic Communications practice of FTI Consulting on a global basis.

The brand change is among the final steps in executing the global “One Brand” strategy that the company announced earlier this year and is an important part of the integration of the FTI Consulting businesses around the world. In August, FD Asia Pacific completed its transition to the FTI Consulting banner, followed by FD Americas on Sept.12. The transition of FD in the EMEA region today marks the completion of the brand migration process for the global Strategic Communications practice.

The firm’s transition to a single, unified global brand began in January 2011 following a five-year period that included the acquisition of more than 25 companies, including FD in 2006. The “One Brand” strategy is designed to provide clients with a more competitive, unified offering throughout the global FTI Consulting network, and the Strategic Communications practice now will be more strongly positioned to respond to the critical issues that face management teams — including corporate governance concerns, the revival of cross-border M&A, restructuring, crisis communications and increasing regulatory scrutiny.

“During the last five years, FD and FTI Consulting have worked together on a growing number of client assignments as FTI Consulting has grown from a few consultants to more than 500 across EMEA. London now is the biggest office in the company’s international network, and we are excited at the opportunities created by being part of a broader consulting group. This particularly is true in the current volatile macroeconomic environment, where businesses face a growing number of challenges,” said John Waples, Leader of the Strategic Communications practice in the UK. “Having been at the forefront of the business communications market for more than 25 years, it also is important to highlight that we remain totally focused on providing our clients with the first-class communications advice they have come to expect.”

Mark Malloch-Brown, Chairman of FTI Consulting, EMEA, said, “The strength of the FD brand has supported the expansion of FTI Consulting across the EMEA region. With FTI Consulting now well-established, it makes sense to create a single, strong brand, offering a range of consultancy services. I believe that we now are uniquely placed to meet the ever-changing needs of our clients in an integrated manner.

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