Archive for Luty, 2013

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By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment

Building Long-Term Cloud Cover

By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment

Why moving your contact centre operation into the cloud isn’t a decision to be undertaken in a hurry

Deon Scheepers, Regional Business Development Manager, Interactive Intelligence Africa

For a number of years now, the cloud has been the buzzword in the contact centre industry. Research suggests that a large number of local companies are starting to shift their operations into this virtual environment, citing cost saving and increased operational efficiency as primary drivers.

With legacy systems beginning to age, and companies being faced with complex and costly upgrade scenarios, the cloud represents a logical choice for those looking to stay relevant in a swiftly evolving technological landscape.

Yet with this rapid uptake of new technology, many companies have made the mistake of embarking on cloud-based upgrades without any sort of long-term vision, electing instead to embrace the latest trends without casting an eye to sustainability.

The problems companies experience when upgrading their contact centre technologies usually stem from poor on-going support and management, rather than issues arising during the initial installation process. While transferring from one system to another generally brings about a number of minor speed bumps, these are insignificant when compared to the problems that can arise when entering into an agreement with a cloud vendor unable to meet a contact centre’s specific long-term requirements.

As such, companies considering potential cloud suppliers would be well advised to take into account a number of elements that might seem insignificant at the start, but could end up causing severe headaches further down the road.

Resiliency
With customer expectations escalating rapidly, contact centres can no longer afford to experience any significant downtime. Maintaining system functionality irrespective of mitigating external factors is increasingly critical to a contact centre’s success. As a result, it’s important to partner with a supplier that offers built-in disaster recovery support, with multiple data centres ensuring fail-over capacity in the event of adverse weather or power outages.

In order to accurately assess a potential vendor’s ability to support business continuity, it’s vital that you establish a thorough understanding of their system’s architecture. Interrogate switchover times, gauge their proposed handling of planned outages for upgrades, and ascertain their ability to deal with emergency downtime. By ensuring that your vendor has the necessary resources to keep your system online and stable, you’ll be afforded increased peace of mind, and be better able to allocate resources to the day-to-day running of your contact centre.

System Ownership
A cloud-based system’s resiliency is also dependent on its capacity to be kept up to date with the latest versions and releases of software. Solutions developed and managed by vendors are likely to offer you a more seamless experience, given the fact that these suppliers have all their resources housed within a single company structure.

Whilst vendors offering third party products are certainly able to deliver high levels of service, their inability to access the teams responsible for a solution’s evolving development certainly impacts their capacity to offer the required levels of support.

Companies proffering their own bespoke solutions are likely to boast a more inherent understanding of your chosen system, enabling them to easily ensure that your software remains current, and to provide comprehensive trouble-shooting support.

On-going Support
While a vendor’s expert knowledge of your product is undeniably important, it is of very little consequence should you be unable to access appropriate and efficient support channels.

Before entering into a service agreement with a vendor, it’s important to make sure from the outset that proper systems and processes are implemented with respect to reporting and resolution, with sufficient resources dedicated to, and accountable for, results.

Rapid patching and issue resolution represent two of the most significant benefits of the cloud as opposed to premises-based solutions, so it’s important that you identify a supplier that is able to meet expectations in this regard.

Building a Stable Home in the Cloud
Moving your contact centre operation to the virtual environment certainly has the potential to boost overall efficiency, as well as your bottom line, but it is a journey that needs to be undertaken with a partner you can trust, and whose vision is appropriately aligned with your own.

Achieving success in the cloud is not simply about doing something fast, but about implementing solutions that are practical, reliable, stable, resilient and safe. By working with a trusted and reputable vendor, your odds of success are high, so make sure to perform due diligence before signing on the dotted line.

BlackBerry Announces Two New Board Directors

By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment

BlackBerry® today announced it has appointed two new Directors to the Company’s Board of Directors — Richard “Dick” Lynch, retired Executive Vice President of Verizon Communications Inc. and Bert Nordberg, former Chief Executive Officer of Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications.

Commenting on their appointment, Board Chair Barbara Stymiest said, “We are very pleased to add the talent and industry knowledge of these two respected executives to our Board. We are looking forward to their contributions as we continue to drive for long-term shareholder value and seek opportunities to leverage the extraordinary BlackBerry 10 platform launched last week.”

With the additions of Mr. Lynch and Mr. Nordberg, the Company’s board of directors now consists of 12 members, of which 10 are independent members including an independent chair.

Richard “Dick” Lynch is president of FB Associates, LLC, which provides advisory and consulting services at the intersection of technology, marketing, and business operations.
Prior to his current roles, Lynch had been the EVP & Chief Technology Officer for Verizon Communications Inc. since 2007 and the EVP & CTO of Verizon Wireless and its predecessors since 1990.

Lynch is a Fellow of The Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE). He has sat on the boards of numerous industry organizations including the GSM Association (GSMA), the CDMA Development Group (CDG), and as a member of the Federal Communications Commission Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) and Communications Security Reliability and Interoperability Council (CSRIC). Lynch has also been honored with the President’s Award by the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA), and been inducted into the Wireless History Foundation’s Hall of Fame. Lynch currently serves on the boards of TranSwitch Corporation where he is chairman and Ruckus Wireless.

Lynch is a graduate of Lowell Technological Institute (now University of Massachusetts) where he received bachelors and masters degrees in electrical engineering (1970 and 1972 respectively). He has also completed post graduate work at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and the Johnson School of Management at Cornell University.

Bert Nordberg is Chairman of Vestas Wind Systems, A/S (Denmark) and director on the Board of Svenska Cellulosa Aktiebolaget (SCA) (Sweden). Additionally, Mr. Nordberg serves as director on the Board of Kcell Joint Stock Company (Kazakhstan) and as a representative for the Chamber of Commerce & Industry of Southern Sweden and as a Member of the Hewlett Packard Communications, Media & Entertainment Board of Industry Advisors (USA).

Mr. Nordberg was Chairman of Sony Mobile from May-December 2012. He was President & CEO of Sony Ericsson from October 2009-May 2012. While at Ericsson, Mr. Nordberg held many senior positions including Executive Vice President, Ericsson Group and Head of Ericsson Silicon Valley, based in California, USA.

Mr. Nordberg received degrees in Electronic Engineering from Malmö Tekniska Läroverk in 1978 and as Engineer in the Swedish Marines from Berga, Sweden, in 1980. He has complemented these degrees with courses in International Management and Marketing and Finance at INSEAD University, France.

Nashua Mobile’s customer app now available on BlackBerry 10

By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment

Nashua Mobile is proud to announce that its existing smartphone app is now also available for BlackBerry® 10. Nashua Mobile developers worked closely with the BlackBerry® smartphone developers to ensure that the app would be available at launch, aiming to provide customers with a great service experience on the BlackBerry 10 platform. The free-to-download app is available now from BlackBerry® World™.

The app has been designed with the Nashua Mobile customer in mind. The central philosophy of Saving You Time, Saving You Money, Putting You First has been the guiding principle in designing the app.

The app allows Nashua Mobile customers using the latest BlackBerry 10 smartphones to interact with the company directly from their smartphones. You can view your current spend, evaluate how much airtime, SMS and data you have used within the current month, and check when you will be due for an upgrade. You can also use the interactive store locator to find your nearest Nashua Mobile store.

Says Nashua Mobile CEO Mark Taylor: “The availability of the app for BlackBerry 10 showcases our commitment to customer service and a seamless customer experience. We strive to always serve our customers through the channels and devices of their choice. It also reflects our determination to be an innovative provider at the forefront of the latest technologies on the market.”

The Mobile Revolution

By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment

Sage ERP Africa’s Insights 2013 conference kicked off today with an opening address from Managing Director, Jeremy Waterman in which he said that it seems almost redundant to talk of the ‘Mobile Revolution’. “Have we not been talking of mobility in IT for many years already? It is not really the concept of mobility that is revolutionary, but more the reality of the delivery mechanism that has undergone an evolution.”

Smartphones were a rarity just over four years ago and it was less than three years ago that the Apple iPad was launched in April 2010, that made the Tablet a reality.

Prior to the advent of Smartphones and Tablets, mobility was defined as a mobile personal computer in the form of a laptop with an internet connection. As such the method of delivery and user interface was restricted to a browser version of traditional desktop applications. Software vendors were understandably focused on re-engineering their software to provide this internet enabled access.

“The Smartphone and Tablet’s runaway success in the market has redefined mobility, not only in terms of the method of delivery but also in terms of how we interact with these devices with the touch screen all but replacing the keyboard,” says Waterman.

The evolution in mobility sent software vendors back to the drawing board. “The redesign and development of applications for multiple devices took centre stage. These applications had to run across a diverse selection of mobile operating platforms that include IOS, Android and now Windows 8, at the very least. These mobile platforms still need to efficiently support a traditional desktop environment, adding another layer of complexity,” explains Waterman.

“There is an App for that” has become the ubiquitous answer to the information or application requirements in the consumer world. The world of connected services and ‘Apps’ is fast spreading to the business applications world, where we see core business and ERP solutions becoming leaner, more focused and agile with companies subscribing to specialised applications as a service. These include payments, shipping, tax, document management, inventory management, CRM, business intelligence and many more.

“The way in which we deliver our core applications will change to provide the business with the same technological freedom that the consumer has. I foresee 2013 being the year that revolutionises the business platform of application delivery, marking the next big step in the mobile evolution,” concludes Waterman.

Get up to 1000 free SMSs on Virgin Mobile prepaid

By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment

Virgin Mobile South Africa has launched an amazing ‘Free SMS’ promotion for all prepaid customers.

Now prepaid customers will receive FREE SMSs whenever they recharge, which can be used to text anyone, on any network at anytime.

You get free SMSs each and every time you recharge, whatever the value of your recharge, and you get a full month to use them, so no sneaky short expiry.  Here’s a breakdown of what you get:

  • R10 get 100 free SMSs,
  • R15 get R150 free SMSs,
  • R35 get 350 free SMSs,
  • and for R50 and over you get a whopping 1000 free SMSs.

That’s right for spending R10 you get R10 airtime and 100 free SMSs worth R60, so that’s R70 worth of value, for a R10 recharge!

Virgin Mobile South Africa CEO, Jonathan Marchbank says, “We are delighted to be able to offer our prepaid customers such amazing value, and this is the first of many offers to come throughout 2013 that will provide clear transparent value to the customer.”

The promotion is set to run for three months, from 1 February to 30 April 2013, and is available through all Virgin Mobile prepaid stockists including Edgars, Jet, CNA, Shoprite and Checkers.

For further information, please visit your nearest Virgin Mobile outlet or log onto www.virginmobile.co.za.

 

Sharp reaches new levels of innovation with launch of light production colour MFPs

By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment
  • Launch marks the company’s first entry into the production arena
  • New product line suitable for small-medium businesses as well as large enterprises

Sharp Middle East has recently launched the MX-7040N and MX-6240N digital full colour multifunction printers, which are well positioned for the high volume office colour and light production environment.

These are highly automated light production machines designed primarily for corporate reprographic departments and are also likely to find favour with pay-for-print firms that need the agility to react quickly to urgent, unscheduled jobs.

On launching the MX-7040N and MX-6240N MFPs, Tomoo Shimizu, Director, Business Solutions, Sharp Middle East said: “With its high levels of productivity, increased user-friendliness and unparalleled reliability, we’re proud to launch our first entry into the competitive, but lucrative production arena.”

To make things as easy as possible, Sharp has equipped the new MFPs with a large colour touch screen which is operated by ‘finger-swipe’ technology – similar to that which is commonly found in smartphones and tablet PCs. Finger-swipe control simplifies every task including all printing, copying, scanning and finishing operations. A large selection of finishing options makes it possible for customers to produce a wider range of documents in-house, giving them the benefit of financial savings, faster reaction times and better security for sensitive or time-critical documents.

The MX-7040N and MX-6240N MFPs provide exceptional performance and expandability to meet the most discerning of business needs. With true 1,200 x 1,200 dpi high-quality printing, a 10.1-inch colour LCD touchscreen and the option of Internet browsing and printing of Web pages, the Multifunctional Systems ensure enhanced usability, superb image quality and advanced functionality for any business or enterprise.

Productivity-wise, the MX7040N and MX-6240N features a 150-sheet high-speed feeder with an engine speed of 70cpm and 62cpm (colour & B/W) respectively. Equipped with a 3,100-sheet paper capacity (expandable to 8,500 sheets) and seamless printing with an immediate toner hopper ensures continuous runs during cartridge replacement. In terms of build quality, the new MFPs feature an environmentally-advanced design which is free of lead and chromium, and feature a short warm up time, contributing to overall energy savings.

Ravinder Kumar, Deputy General Manager, Sales at Sharp Middle East, said: “Sharp prides itself on developing the latest printing solutions to ensure businesses – both Print and Copy Bureaus and in Corporate Reprographic Departments (CRD) of larger-scale corporations – can enhance their productivity through smarter, more efficient and more reliable devices.”

“The launch of the new line-up is part of Sharp’s overall business strategy to increase penetration in the colour printing segment and grow market share into the lucrative production arena. The MX7040N/MX-6240N are great additions to our solid MFP line-up,” concluded Kumar.

The MX7040N and MX-6240N multifunction printers are available in South Africa now.

 

SA consumers suffer “Cash Hangover” as ATM activity declines in January

By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment

Latest statistics released by the Spark Cash Index (SCI)*, which measures the average value of cash withdrawals across more than 2 000 Spark ATMs throughout South Africa, reveal that consumers significantly reduced their spending during January 2013, following record increased cash withdrawal activity in December 2012. The SCI recorded a month-on-month drop of 9.18% in average cash withdrawal figures for January 2013, to R440.53.

According to Marc Sternberg, MD of Spark ATM Systems, the steep drop in the withdrawal values during January is a recurring trend, and is in keeping with recorded SCI ATM withdrawal patterns over the past five years. “Historically, following a surge in spending over the festive season, January is the month when consumers often adopt a more conservative spending approach, especially with mandatory expenses on the horizon such as school fees and related costs.

“In addition, there is also the fact that many workers get paid early in December and are often faced with a ‘long’ month before they get paid again in January, during which they have to curb their spending activity.”

The SCI also revealed a significant year-on-year growth of 5.43% for January 2013, which according to Ronel Oberholzer, Principal Economist at IHS Global Insights, can be seen as a positive sign. “Comparing to last year’s levels (2.65% year-on-year growth recorded in January 2012), consumers are currently in a better situation. However, I suspect that we will soon see a slowing in the rate of increase.”

Sternberg says that although consumers will remain cautious, the current stable interest rate environment will foster consumer spending and local retailers should still enjoy a positive trading environment in 2013.

This forecast is backed up by PwC’s recent South African retail and consumer products outlook 2012-2016 report which reveals that both food and non-food retail sales are expected to grow steadily through 2012 – 2016, and sales by value will grow by an average of 7.85% in nominal terms. “General food sales, which accounted for 54% of retail sales in 2011, are forecast to edge up to R576.7bn in 2012, from R542.3bn in 2011. Going forward, the report forecasts that food sales will accelerate again from 2013, rising to R787.6bn by 2016.” 

According to Sternberg, average monthly cash withdrawal figures will regain positive momentum in late March 2013. “This is due to the Easter holiday period occurring earlier this year, which is historically synonymous with increased retail activity nationwide.”

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON ATM WITHDRAWAL TRENDS 

Provincial cash withdrawal trends:

The Eastern Cape recorded the highest provincial average cash withdrawal value (R475.59) for January 2013, followed by Mpumalanga (R459.36) and KwaZulu-Natal (R451.59) provinces.

“The Eastern Cape traditionally experiences an influx of people from all over the country, visiting family members over the festive season. Many often stay well into January and this is reflected in the increase in cash withdrawal activity during this period,” says Sternberg. 

Site / location category cash withdrawal trends:

Petrol sites recorded the highest average cash withdrawal value (R448.11) during January 2013, followed by wholesale (R445.77) and leisure (R429.40).

“December to February is historically one of South Africa’s busiest tourism periods, with many locals and international visitors travelling throughout the country. The ATM withdrawal value at petrol sites during January is reflective of this trend,” says Sternberg.

Is ‘cost efficiency’ actually costing your organisation money?

By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment

By Gerrit-Jan Albers, Service Delivery Manager at RDB Consulting 

In the current economic climate, many organisations are driven to cut costs, save money and improve cost efficiency across the board. One area that is typically under scrutiny is IT. As a result, organisations are scaling back on areas such as software, applications, operating systems and even databases. The cost cutting route, however, can turn out to be an expensive exercise as short cut solutions can negatively impact performance and profitability in the long run. Added to this, cutting costs in one area may even lead to increased costs in another. When it comes to saving money, organisations need to balance cost efficiency and operational efficiency. Finding the right balance of both can be a challenging task, but is critical in maintaining long-term agility, competitiveness and profitability.  

Unfortunately, IT is typically one of the first areas of budget cuts as its role is often not seen as critical to the business.  However, IT underpins the operations of the majority of organisations across industry sectors and without it, many businesses could not function.  

In an effort to reduce IT spend, organisations often ‘sweat’ their assets for as long as possible, stretching their hardware investments. However, hardware is one area that is constantly evolving and being upgraded, and over time legacy equipment can become inefficient. As a result tasks such as data analysis, business intelligence and even day-to-day information processing can take longer, negatively impacting the productivity of the organisation and its people. This in turn has a ‘knock on’ effect, impacting the profitability of the business, as time is money. In addition, legacy hardware often requires additional maintenance tasks to be performed, increasing the cost of support. Furthermore, replacement components become difficult and expensive to source, increasing the cost of maintenance. By cutting back on hardware upgrades, organisations often end up spending more money rather than saving money as newer hardware would not require any of these additional costs.  

Software licensing is another area where organisations attempt to save costs. By downgrading licenses and reducing the number of licenses, costs can be trimmed. However, downgraded software often comes with reduced functionality, which again can negatively impact productivity. Another way of reducing fees is to buy the software, but not the support. However, if for example application downtime occurs due to a database issue, the support needed to resolve the issue is usually more costly than if contracted into the original support agreement. 

Another popular means to cut costs is to reduce resources, such as the number of people employed within an IT department. However, when people leave an organisation, they take their knowledge and intellectual property with them. This means that the existing resource tasked with performing another job in addition to their own may take months to get to grips with the new role and responsibility. The resource now performing a dual role may also not have the same focus, as their time is split between multiple tasks. This impacts IT service delivery, with all the resulting ‘knock on’ effects.  

Cutting costs can have many negative effects on the business, which will end up costing a lot of money in the long-term, particularly in mission critical areas such as the database. The risk of downtime is a very real problem, and the inability to restore services increases downtime along with the financial impact thereof. Obtaining services and support on an ad-hoc basis is also more expensive than a comprehensive service contract or service level agreement (SLA). Furthermore, maintenance on legacy infrastructure and hardware is a laborious and expensive task. Out of date hardware will eventually reach a point where it will no longer function, having serious business and financial implications.  

Rather than simply embarking on cost cutting exercises, organisations should look towards delivering greater cost efficiency with high levels of service delivery. An effective outsourcing partner who specialises in specific areas of IT such as database outsourcing, maintenance and administration, will help organisations to understand where they can afford to trim on spend and where they cannot. This will help ensure that organisations achieve optimal balance of cost and operational efficiency, effectively cutting costs without negatively impacting the business and its profitability.    

TAKEALOT.com announces BlackBerry 10 app

By admin, 8 lutego, 2013, No Comment

TAKEALOT.com featured at BlackBerry 10 launch in South Africa

TAKEALOT.com, one of South Africa’s largest online stores demonstrated its new TAKEALOT.com app at the official launch of BlackBerry® 10 in South Africa on 30 January 2013.

South Africa was one of six countries globally to host an official launch event for the new BlackBerry 10 platform and the unveiling of the first two BlackBerry® 10 smartphones: the BlackBerry® Z10 (all-touch) and BlackBerry® Q10 (touch with physical keyboard) smartphones.

TAKEALOT.com is fast becoming South Africa’s default option to shop online. It offers safe, secure online shopping for leading brands at competitive prices and guarantee swift delivery straight to your door, even on weekends.

The TAKEALOT.com app for BlackBerry 10 has been designed with the focus on a simple, superior user experience, making shopping on your BlackBerry smartphone easier than ever.

“Working on the BlackBerry 10 launch has given TAKEALOT.com the opportunity to extend our reach to a cutting edge smartphone platform. Integration has been a simple process and the innovative user interface of the BlackBerry 10 operating system has enabled us to expose TAKEALOT.com’s platform to our users in a new way. We expect BlackBerry 10 to find great traction in South Africa and we are pleased to have an app ready for the launch of the new platform,” said Jacques van Niekerk, CTO, TAKEALOT.com.

“We’re proud to have collaborated with BlackBerry for the BlackBerry 10 launch.  Access to online shopping via the mobile phone or mobile device is going to become the predominant means of access for South Africans in the near future and we are proud to be at the cutting edge of this development. The BlackBerry development team has been superb and we cannot wait to offer this to existing and new customers,” said Kim Reid, CEO, TAKEALOT.com.

BlackBerry 10 users will be able to download the TAKEALOT.com app from BlackBerry® World™.

 

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