Archive for Wrzesień, 2011

SAP accredits Barnstone mining solution

By admin, 27 września, 2011, No Comment

The Barnstone Mining Solution draws on Barnstone’s mining experience to create a pre-configured version of SAP’s All-in-One software for the mining industry.

“Mid-market mining companies face a double challenge: reducing costs while gaining the flexibility to move rapidly into niche areas in a highly dynamic marketplace,” says Conrad Steyn, business development director at Barnstone. “The Barnstone Mining Solution gives mining clients access to the industry-leading processes and functionality embedded in SAP—optimised for the mining industry, cost effective and at reduced risk. The experience and focus of our implementation team combined with the solution’s predefined project approaches and plans means that the Barnstone Mining Solution can be live within 100 days—another huge benefit.”

The solution offers financial management, project systems, plant maintenance, procure-to-pay and inventory management modules at a fixed price. Once it is stabilised, clients have the option to build on the solution. Industry-specific solutions like Barnstone Mining Solution provide clients with easy access to SAP’s intellectual capital in business processes that really generate business.

The solution has been live at Rand Uranium since August 2010. “The Barnstone Mining Solution was quick to implement and has already helped us to reduce costs while improving performance,” says Mike Gallagher, CIO, Rand Uranium. “And the fact that we could run a comprehensive demo helped make our decision to implement that much easier.”

Barnstone has been a member of the SAP Partner Program since 2008. “Value Added Resellers such as Barnstone are selected for their professional strength, customer successes and SAP applications expertise. SAP is excited about this certification, which follows intensive and vigorous quality checks and processes and they exceeded every stage” says Desmond Nair, Director of Ecosystem and Channel at SAP Africa. “We believe that Barnstone’s certification will benefit the mining industry and provide benefits such as short term return on investment, medium to long term expansion, innovative approaches, easily accessible enhancements and no disruption due to the choice of functionality deployed through enhancement packs.”

Wesbank unveils iContact

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

Locally developed, iContract provides potential vehicle owners with the ability to sign their finance contracts on a comprehensive and straightforward online format at their convenience, be it at home, in the work environment or at the dealership.

According to statistics by Internet World, South Africa currently has over 6.8 million internet users. In addition, the ecommerce market globally is worth an estimated R735 billion in 2011. “Internet usage is growing rapidly and our research has shown an increased willingness by clients to interact financially online at their leisure,” says Chris De Kock, Executive Head of Sales and Marketing at WesBank, the asset-based financier.

De Kock says the system was developed in keeping with the easily accessible and user-friendly services online consumers enjoy at their disposal. “We believe this is the next logical step in vehicle finance in South Africa, offering consumers the ability to easily finalise their vehicle finance contract 24/7, without the complicated terminology and in less than half the time it normally takes to complete the traditional paper-based contracting process.”

He says that iContract was purposefully designed by external consultants to remove all the technical jargon so that it is easy to comprehend, unlike the traditional contracts consumers are usually overwhelmed with. “iContract guides the user through each section of the terms and conditions in a step-by-step and easy-to-read format. With the aid of ‘tooltips’, the client can hover the mouse pointer over certain legal terms, which are highlighted in a different colour, to open a textbox window that explains the terminology in plain English if it is required.”

De Kock says that the new service has already seen significant take-up from customers and he attributes its success to the paperless, uncomplicated and hassle-free layout. “The accessibility has been received favourably and over the past three weeks we have already signed up nearly 1 000 contracts, with most customers completing the process in less than 20 minutes. This is significant as it would have previously taken the average customer between 45 minutes and an hour to sign the finance contract at the dealership.”

De Kock says that once a consumer has engaged with a Finance and Insurance (F&I) consultant at a dealership to finalise the selection of a vehicle and approval of finance, WesBank generates a unique account number and PIN, which is emailed to the client who, in their own time, enters those details on the WesBank website to complete the legal process.”

“The entire process is legally compliant. As customers are guided through the contract they are prompted to acknowledge their agreement and understanding of each section of the T&C’s before proceeding, which allows the system to date and time stamp the contract accordingly. Additional benefits include the ability to save documents digitally for personal record keeping, so that the client has a clear understanding of what is required of him and has easy referencing capabilities.”

Alternatively, provided all of the necessary documentation is at hand, consumers can also sign the iContract on the dealership premises. “The new contracting system benefits both the consumer and WesBank, no matter where the consumer chooses to finalise the agreement,” concludes De Kock.

Opinion: Disaster recovery in the contact centre

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

By Paul Fick, Divisional MD of Jasco Enterprise Communication.

A contact centre is operationally intensive with complex interaction between people, technology, and processes. Failure is usually business critical, halting communication and negatively impacting revenue flows, customer satisfaction, brand credibility and loyalty. Precisely because disaster recovery and business continuity have been around so long, however, there’s a solution to suit almost every contact centre, regardless of size or available budgets. Paul Fick of Jasco Enterprise Communication offers some insight and advice.

There are a number of key considerations that, if taken into account, will allow the contact centre to recover the most business critical aspects of their communication capabilities quickly. You don’t have to break the bank, but you do need to understand the risk and the options available, and select what works for you and your business.

Firstly – have a plan. Document it. Get a forum together to review it and ensure it’s feasible. Then practice it. Make sure your people know the plan, and the infrastructure and technology are in place to make it all possible.

This plan should ensure that you are able to get the basics up and running, and in most contact centres that means ‘voice’. For inbound calls, which are   likely to be customers calling in, you need an alternative path for calls to reach your organisation. Ensure that you have an agreement with your Telecoms      service provider to divert calls in case of a connectivity failure.

Do your planning in layers. Consider multiple ‘what if’ scenarios and define levels of disaster and the possible solutions to them.

After voice, access to data is usually the next priority. You will need a plan to get your applications up and running or have alternative means for agents to access the company and client data that they need access to, to respond to and log queries.

There are a number of options to address a disaster with regard to infrastructure, cloud services and people. At a technology level, it starts with redundancy. For full recovery, you need full duplication, which can be cost prohibitive. One solution is a ‘dark centre’, a facility which may be sparsely furnished with rudimentary equipment, that you can get up and running in an hour. A better bet may be fail-over to another contact centre – be it a contact centre from another division of the company or perhaps a branch in another part of the country. Or you could make provision for failover to a hosted service provider.

For every business the challenge is to find a compromise between cost and risk to the business. When a large retailer recently lost two days over the festive season due to failover problems, they lost millions. While the contact centre was previously seen as a subset of the ICT layer of a business, its complexity in terms of hard- and software, people and processes means it requires special attention. Consider the risk, the probability of that risk, and its impact – and plan accordingly.

Opinion: The reseller lives on

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

By Deon Botha, HP Personal Systems Group and Magnetic Media Business Unit Manager at Drive Control Corporation

The traditional role of the reseller as a box dropper to move products from the distributor to the end user is an outdated model, as the market has changed and margins are becoming increasingly tight on constantly evolving technology. However the role of the reseller has not fallen away, as there are specific markets that their offering is particularly suited to and added services that resellers can cater to in order to maintain profitability in a changing market.

Incorporating the so called “big iron”, including networking, storage and servers, into the product offering, is one way for resellers to remain competitive. However, because of the complexity of the big iron market there are fairly steep barriers to entry in this field. While the value of individual sales may be higher and the profit margins higher in proportion to the complexity of requirements, making a mistake on such large sales is not an option, so it is vital to employee highly trained personnel when selling this type of product. These resources however do not come cheap, and opportunities are limited, which means that for the majority of resellers this simply is not a viable option.

Another area that can be explored by resellers is the field of services and technical support. Again though there are barriers to entry in this market, since trained technicians are vital and many more resources are necessary if a business is to open a service wing, which can make it very costly and out of reach for smaller resellers. The fact is, there is still a market for ‘moving tin’, but it needs to be done in the right way. Resellers cannot simply take a box from the distributor and drop it at the end user without adding value, because the value adds are where the money lies in this field.

In the past, adding value typically meant delivering hardware with software pre-installed, but since the vast majority of resellers now do this, it no longer acts as a competitive edge but is simply expected by the customer.

Resellers need to up their game, adding value to the end user in a meaningful way by delivering solutions as opposed to products, increasing their margins as well as their relevance to the customer.

The reseller market has a unique advantage in that it has access to products from a variety of vendors and distributors, which means that different products can be combined to deliver a solution to the end user, for example a notebook with office software, anti-virus protection, backup solutions and other tools from various vendors, all bundled together into one offering that delivers immediate productivity for the user. This is where the real value for the end user lies, and margins can be increased by the reseller in this way, ensuring continued profitability.

While large retailers may have bulk buying power and are able to deliver products at cheaper prices than resellers, and vendors have been known to deal directly with large corporate clients on occasion, the reseller still has a very definite place in the South African market, particularly in the Small and Medium Business space. SMBs make up a large segment of the local market, and by focusing on more sales with lower values in this market, resellers can effectively service needs while remaining viable business entities.

The local supply chain ensures that the reseller lives on. Vendors are manufacturers who run the supply chains to produce products at least cost.

Distributors take care of the warehousing and logistics to get products into the country at least cost, but do not necessarily have a presence in all areas of South Africa. Resellers are the ones with the relationships and presence in the market throughout the country and are uniquely positioned to sell products into our geographically dispersed market.

There will always be a place for the reseller that vendors, distributors and even retailers cannot fulfil. However dropping boxes is not the way to ensure profitability. Adding value in other ways is the only means to increase profitability and continue to serve the end users effectively.

Angus Dent named new Synchronica CEO

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

Synchronica plc, the international provider of next generation mobile messaging solutions, has announced several changes to its Board of Directors.

With immediate effect David Mason will become Executive Chairman. Angus Dent, previously Chief Financial Officer will take the role of Chief Executive Officer and Arthur Phillips, Synchronica’s Company Secretary will become the company’s interim Chief Financial Officer.

Carsten Brinkschulte resigned his position as CEO and Nicole Meissner has left the company; the Board expresses its thanks for their significant contribution.

Angus Dent, Synchronica CEO commented: “Carsten and Nicole were the founders of Synchronica and have been instrumental in building the company into one of the world’s leading mobile messaging businesses. After a number of strategic acquisitions Synchronica is now entering a new phase in which we must focus on integrating the people and products we have acquired and build on the successes that we have achieved in order to provide greater shareholder value.”

Angus Dent has been a member of the Synchronica Board for over five years and David Mason has been Non Executive Chairman of Synchronica for four years.  The Synchronica Board therefore believes both have the skills and experience necessary to see the business through its next phase of development.

Standard bank assists Mellon Housing Initiative

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

The initiative aims to build ten houses each in Tembisa, Gauteng, and Witsand, Western Cape, between August and November, at the rate of one house a week. The houses will be handed over to families that have always lived in shacks and have had no access to running water or electricity.

Mellon Housing, a non-profit organisation working with government to create sustainable human settlements, brings to the project building experts who pass on their skills to members of the community and who oversee corporate volunteers, such as those from Standard Bank, to ensure that all work done on the houses meets stringent standards.

As it was last year, in 2011 Standard Bank is one of corporate sponsors of the Mellon Housing Initiative, contributing some R1.8 million to materials and site facilities. “About 90 staff members worked on the houses in Witsand, Atlantis during August and when they came back into the business with stories about what an incredibly emotional experience it had been to enable families move out of shacks that they’d lived in for generations, another 176 people signed up immediately for the project,”.

“The interest and enthusiasm from our employees has been humbling,” says Standard Bank PBB provincial director for the Western Cape, Johan van Wyk. “Each site can only accommodate a specific number of people, “That enthusiasm on the ground has been matched by those employees who stay behind in the offices and branches to cover for those taking a day or two out of their working week to mix cement, paint walls, and nail down roofs. In other words, the teams on site are part of a much larger Standard Bank team that is going the extra miles to make sure the houses are built on time and to the desired standards so that the recipient families don’t have to wait a second longer than necessary to have a brick and mortar home.”

The volunteers come from all ranks within the bank and the region, ranging from tellers and senior relationship managers to provincial executive committee members. The goal is to complete one house every seven days.

“Being relevant to the communities in which we operate is one of Standard Bank’s fundamental values and, although our employees love to give of their time at orphanages and underprivileged schools, for instance, building a house in seven days for people who have probably grown up in crowded conditions in a one-roomed cardboard or corrugated iron shack enables them to change people’s lives for the better in the space of just seven days.”

“It also enables them to meet people within the bank whom they would otherwise not encounter. And, sweating side by side over a wheelbarrow or a muddy trench breaks down the hierarchical barriers that are often unavoidable in a bank. Both executives and employees from other ranks within the organisation discover that there are real people behind the business titles they carry.

“In a way, the Mellon Housing Initiative enables employees to create their own ‘region’ within a region, forging the kinds of links across departments and branches that develop camaraderie and morale throughout the bank.”

Johan believes, too, that handing over a house to a poor family does more than provide desperately needed healthy and safe accommodation. “It inspires people to have hope for their future and realise that they have the power to change their own world for the better.

Being able to participate collectively in the house building, even if only by manning a desk for someone else who’s getting their hands extremely dirty, enables all us to prove to the wider community that that we care, even if you don’t bank with us.”

Standard Bank’s Employee Community Involvement programme offers staff different ways of getting to know their communities and to be a part of what really helps create positive change in the lives of people. And, when either individual employees or groups of employees make donations to community initiatives or non-profit organisations registered in South Africa, the programme matches the contributions made.

Ocean Blue’s Talking TV technology wins at CSI Awards 2011

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

Announcing the winners of the Awards at the International Broadcast Convention (IBC) in Amsterdam, the judges recognised that Ocean Blue’s Talking TV technology represents a major step forward in the way that blind and visually impaired consumers can now access Digital TV.

The technology has been developed to create the world’s first accessible technology solution designed to provide speech/talk-based TV programming guides and set up menus. Ocean Blue Software leads the world in this advanced technology development.

Ocean Blue Software worked in conjunction with the Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) to develop an advanced Text to Speech technology for digital TV Products, with the aim of making the viewing of TV more accessible to those with visual impairment.

Ken Helps, CEO of Ocean Blue Software says “We are delighted to have been acknowledged by the judges of the 2011 CSI Product of the Year Awards for our product. The Ocean Blue team have worked hard to develop and educate the market to advance assistive technology software, and this is a great way of showing how successful the development has been.”

The emerging trend is for this assistive living technology to become a standard application in integrated digital televisions in the next 3 years.

BlackBerry Rugby world cup 2011 Fantasy league

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

Become the team manager and coach as you get to select your Fantasy Team for the Rugby World Cup 2011, which runs until 23 October 2011.  Selections for round two are in process, so be sure to register today to join the action.

Your points are scored based on your Fantasy Team’s on-field performance, which determines your ranking in the BlackBerry Rugby World Cup Fantasy League. If you’re near the top of the league at the end of the competition, the advantage is yours with massive prizes.

Register at http://za.blackberry.com/fantasyrugby and select your fantasy team of 22 players from the 20 competing teams and stand a chance to win exciting prizes.

Also if you have not yet downloaded the Official Rugby World Cup 2011 App for the BlackBerry platform.

This app lets you stay on top of all the Rugby World Cup action with live match text commentary and score updates, half time and full time video highlights, tournament news, statistics and much more.

DiaMatrix is SA’s first domain registrar

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

The last week has delivered two South African firsts for DiaMatrix, last Thursday the company became the first Registrar after passing all UniForum’s tests with flying colours. And yesterday they became the first Registrar in South Africa to register a domain into the live environment.

The EPP system is an internationally adopted standard that provides a simpler and more secure means of managing domain administration. Currently, South Africa is using the legacy email based domain name registration system but this will over time fall away.

Co.Za Registry Services, a division of UniForum SA has incorporated this authorative EPP system and will only allow qualifying Registrars access to it. In order to become a Registrar and successfully pass all UniForum’s tests can take up to six months’ of advanced development.

Alternatively, DiaMatrix’s multi-registrar, multi-reseller system will allow all ISP / Companies and any co.za domain holders to become registrars through Domains.Co.Za (www.domains.co.za) within 24-hours.

DiaMatrix will be able to offer access to UniForum’s EPP system through their white label solution called Domains.Co.Za (www.domains.co.za). Domains.Co.Za will launch as soon as UniForum gives the “thumbs-up” to allow for multiple Registrars.

The benefits of UniForum’s new EPP system include:

  • Reduced costs: All Registrars using this system will have a reduced domain registration / renewal cost
  • An accreditation system which requires registrar approval and compliance with EPP standards
  • Increased security, ensuring authorised registrars access to the management of their domains
  • Ease of use through open industry standard protocols
  • Reduced administration of having to deal with the previous legacy domain registration and maintenance system
  • Wildly adopted and accepted means of communication through various tried and tested international standards

Financial services board won’t see Ghavalas-style transactions set aside

By admin, 23 września, 2011, No Comment

In an attempt to avoid any opposition to their motion, the FSB set the matter down for hearing on the unopposed Court Roll. However several parties, including Simon Nash and Aubrey Wynne-Jones, opposed this motion and the Judge ruled that the matter has to be argued on the opposed roll in March 2012.

Previous occasions where the FSB and/or one of the FSB’s favoured curators, Antony Mostert have failed to overturn the approvals, which were given by the FSB in the 1990’s included a ruling by Judges Joffe:

In a 2008 ruling, Judge Joffe ruled against Mostert and found for Ghavalas as follows:

“Prior to some substantial amendments brought about to the Pension Funds Act on 7 December 2001, it was not believed by anyone that pensioners had a right to an actuarial surplus…… An employer could take a contribution holiday, i.e. cease making contributions to the fund. This would have the effect over time of the actuarial surplus being used up by the non-contribution of the employer…….Suffice to say the Section 14 certificates remain intact.”

In a similar matter, Judge Satchwell also ruled against Mostert stating:

“I am in agreement that Mostert has unilaterally assumed interventionist rights and powers for himself and attempts to ride roughshod over the courtesies, the protocols, the purposes as set out …… in the ordinary rules of evidence and process of this court. The application was, in a number of respects, based on inadmissible hearsay and opinions. The curator (Mostert) of the applicants should have known better and should have been more cautious.”

Commenting on this latest attempt by the FSB to have the Section 14 Approvals set aside, Simon Nash said: “This is another instance where both the FSB and Mostert have attempted to snatch judgements by stealth. It is more than 16 years since the FSB legally approved the Ghavalas transactions by approving the Section 14 submissions. Had the FSB not given the approvals, none of the Ghavalas transactions would have gone ahead. After all, the Section 14 approval was a prerequisite for the implementation of all the Ghavalas transactions.”

“After almost 20 years, the FSB tries to set aside the approvals that they themselves authorised, saying that they made a mistake! Aside from attempting to steamroll this application through, surely they need to take note of previous judgements and stop wasting taxpayers’ money.”

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