Archive for Marzec, 2013

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Being smart about photo sharing

By admin, 28 marca, 2013, No Comment

Samsung cameras go social

With more than 5.5 million active Facebook users in South Africa accounting for almost 90% of the online population, social networking is here to stay. And with that, comes the need to share content with each another using a myriad of mobile devices. This has seen Samsung Electronics South Africa recently introduce the concept of ‘Smart Camera 2.0’ that lets users upload their favourite photographs and videos directly to a number of social networks via built-in Wi-Fi directly from their cameras.

“While people have been taking photographs and sharing them online via their smartphones for a while, the dedicated features of a digital camera provide functionality not normally available on mobile phones. However, camera users have often been left frustrated having to wait until they get back home before they can start sharing their memories to their social networks of choice,” says Matthew Thackrah, Deputy MD and Director if IT Solutions and Consumer Electronics at Samsung South Africa.

Smart Camera 2.0 enables direct uploading to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, Photobucket, and SkyDrive at the click of a button, once the user is in range of a wireless hotspot. Additionally, it also lets users share photos and videos to their email contacts directly from the camera.

“With this growing use of social networks like Facebook, South Africans are sharing more content between themselves than ever before. This content ranges from the usual text updates to photographs and video clips from special occasions like birthdays, family get-togethers, and the like. With Smart Camera 2.0, we want to make it even easier for people to share high-quality content with their family and friends online – through not only lower end devices but across our product range,” says Thackrah.

Once a camera that boasts Smart functionality is in range of a wireless network, the user simply chooses the Social Sharing icon and selects the social networking service to be used. A prompt will appear for the user ID and password for the site and as soon as the person is logged in, he or she will be able to browse through the files on the camera and select the ones to be uploaded.

“Social sharing is taken to the next level with the Smart Camera 2.0. Now, users are not limited to sharing their photos from a smartphone but can actually use a professional photographic device that provides far better pictures. Samsung is passionate about providing our users with the tools to live the digital life and Samsung’s Smart Camera 2.0 functionality builds on that experience,” concludes Thackrah.

 

Data protection legislation to impact on non-compliant SA businesses

By admin, 28 marca, 2013, No Comment

The forthcoming promulgation of data protection legislation in South Africa is expected to have a significant impact on local businesses in 2013, as compliance is set to become a legal necessity for businesses.

This is according to Guy Kimble, Managing Director of Metrofile Records Management - a group company of JSE-listed Metrofile Holdings Limited – who says that with a legal framework in place now governing data information, it is now critical for companies to review their current systems and to ensure they implement a secure data protection solution.

“Enterprise data is one of the most valuable assets in any company and should be treated accordingly. If critical business data is not properly identified and protected it can prove catastrophic to a company, its shareholders and its customers.”

There is often a misperception among companies that they can easily replace valuable data should a disaster such as fire, public unrest, power failure, hardware failure or data corruption occur, says Kimble. “However, statistics have shown that failing to adequately prepare for such a scenario can have major repercussions, including forcing the business to close.”

Data collated by the U.S. Department of Homeland security suggests that 93% of companies that experience a significant data loss are out of business within five years. While there are no local statistics, this alarming statistic highlights the repercussions that South African businesses could face if they fail to act to protect their own data.

“It is simply good business practise to have a robust data protection plan in place to protect this asset, as well as to ensure compliance with future legislative requirements, such as the Protection of Personal Information Bill (POPI).”

He says that companies often become overwhelmed in the search for a reliable data protection provider due to the many options out there. “However, not every data protection provider is legitimate and by selecting a disreputable provider the company is placed at risk of severe legal, financial and reputation consequences.”

Thorough Internet research, reading trade publications or trusted referrals are typically the best ways to source a data protection provider, says Kimble.

“However, there are some critical questions the company must ask the provider before initiating any business agreements, such as: how does the provider ensure the security of the data (through encryption, firewalls, passwords, physical security etc.); does the data protection provider ensure total compliance with local laws and governance; will the solution increase efficiency; can the backups be tested; are there appropriate systems in place to locate the company’s data when required; and does the provider have legitimate customers /references?”

He says typical warning signs that may indicate a data protection provider is not reliable include, among others: lack of adequate premises or a data centre; no climate control in the data/tape storage areas; a short duration of the business; no local support engineers; poor staff qualifications; restricted access to facility (what are they hiding?); no proof of Disaster Recovery plans; bad reviews on media or Internet (blogs); single entry point of contact; no customers or lack of track record; no website; and no membership to a recognised industry bodies (e.g. Professional Records and Information Services Management).

“Before signing anything, it is best to try the provider out by asking for a demo or a trial run and seeing whether there are qualified people to assist or if the contacts are only sales people. It is also a good idea to conduct some research around international trends which will also help to ascertain whether the provider is using current technologies or merely providing outdated services.”

He says it is also important to consider whether the provider has adequate scalability should the company’s requirements grow and to question whether the solution will ultimately lower the total cost of ownership and provide a good return on investment in the long run.

“While the task of finding a reputable and reliable data protection provider may seem daunting, it is an absolute reality that local businesses must begin to take seriously before they place their company and its customers under legal, financial and reputational risk,” concludes Kimble.

Actionable Insight from Data – the only competitive advantage left

By admin, 28 marca, 2013, No Comment

Dr Tracy Dunbar, Director of BITanium Analytics

In a business environment where prices and products are so alike, a company’s data and how it is used is one of the last remaining differentiators between mediocrity and excellence.

In days gone by, business owners were able to determine and anticipate the behaviour and actions of their customers without the requirement for specialised technology. Not only was the data limited in terms of variety of content but the speed in which decisions were expected was days or even weeks and hence “gut feel” based decisions were acceptable and generally reliable.

In today’s market, there are massive volumes and variety of data being generated at an alarming speed. It is physiologically impossible for the human brain to process all the available information to find patterns and relationships. Coupled with the diverse nature of the available data, the speed in which business is expected to react and make decisions and the increasingly limited resources, “gut feel” based decisions are no longer acceptable.

Today, the most competitive organisations globally use a combination of mathematical techniques and computing power to uncover vital intelligence that exists in the data.  This unique combination of technologies empowers business to tap into the wealth of available data to make decisions based on “what they know to be true” rather than “what they believe to be true”.

In essence, these advanced analytics technologies apply statistical, mathematical and machine learning algorithms to historical data to identify relationships and patterns that can then be used to anticipate and predict what is likely to happen next. The process is enriched through the use of substantial volumes of data that are collected, in real time from a variety of sources. Data relating to transactions, demographics, behaviour and attitudes are now incorporated in the decision process. It is the combination of advanced analytics and this “Big Data” that facilitate this ideal partnership.

Predictive Analytics and “Big Data” are most frequently applied to the area of customer insight and understanding. They offer the capability to understand each customer and to anticipate what they are likely to want and do next, thus enabling a highly personalized interaction between the organization and customer at each touch point. It is these tailored interactions that are proving invaluable in gaining the competitive advantage.

Predictive analytics has a compelling role to play in Risk management and health care. A major Healthcare Insurer in South Africa uses big data and predictive analytics extensively to manage and optimise their management of clinical risk. Santam uses a combination of predictive models and business rules to target, in real time, how a claim should best be processed and its likelihood of being fraudulent.

Predictive analytics can also be applied to operational processes. This includes making consistent and automated decisions in real time to process claims, optimize inventory of stock and detect when a part is likely to fail on a vital piece of equipment within a production line.  Such insight eliminates costly downtime and unnecessary servicing, and ensures that the required spares are in stock.

At BITanium, our core belief is that data is the only representation of the truth; it is not open to corruption, political leanings or opinion, unlike gut feel. Can you afford not to use your data intelligently? What is the consequence to your organization of making decisions the old way while others base their decisions on the facts?

DICE reveals next generation of Battlefield

By admin, 28 marca, 2013, No Comment

Battlefield 4 to deliver human, dramatic and believable action, powered by best-in-class Frostbite 3 technology 

Only in Battlefield™ can players go through a building instead of around it or eject from a jet and take out the enemy mid-free fall. Those incredible gameplay moments that blurs the line between game and glory can only be created by players, and occur only in Battlefield. DICE, a studio of Electronic Arts Inc. (NASDAQ: EA), today announced Battlefield 4™, a genre-defining action blockbuster launching in Spring 2013. Powered by the advanced technology of DICE’s proprietary Frostbite™ 3 engine, Battlefield 4 offers players a glimpse into the future of interactive entertainment – a future that is more human, dramatic and believable than anything before it. With more than 65 million players worldwide, the Battlefield series has consistently been praised by critics for its world-class multiplayer gameplay, and is recognized as the only game that allows players to own land, sea and air.

Battlefield 4 is a seminal moment for the Battlefield series as more award-winning, multiplayer game design elements are incorporated into the single-player campaign. In single-player, gamers will experience huge environments, a playground of destruction, access to an arsenal of vehicles and the ability to direct squad mates. Taking a page from the social aspect of multiplayer gaming, the single-player mode will now track players’ progress, adding an element of persistence and friendly competition to the campaign.

The game made its world debut today with a staggering 17-minute gameplay demo, available for view at Battlefield.com. The demo begins as the player – Recker – opens his eyes to discover that he is trapped in a rapidly sinking car with three of his squad mates. Shooting the window is the only way out. Panic and fear are pushed aside as Recker makes a difficult decision – take the shot and recover the intel but risk that not everyone will survive. The emotional demo features a cast of characters unrivaled in interactive entertainment. Players will learn how to work together in both the Campaign and Multiplayer, issuing squad orders and comparing achievements in both experiences. Adventure and Competition will unfold through a series of beautifully crafted locations constructed with some of the best art and sound design in modern shooters. All of this is only possible with Frostbite 3 – a new standard for interactive entertainment in 2013.

“We are so humbled and proud to debut Battlefield 4 on a global stage with simultaneous events in San Francisco and Stockholm. To be this early in development, and to already be so polished is a huge achievement for the DICE team and reflection of their passion and commitment to driving the franchise forward. Today’s demo was just the beginning — we have so much more in store,” said Patrick Soderlund, Executive Vice President, EA Games Label.

“It is thrilling to witness peoples’ reaction when seeing the game for the first time. It really makes you realize that we are at the beginning of a whole new era for gaming. As artists and craftspeople, we are focused on creating a dynamic, open design that brings people together with amazing, surprising unscripted moments that they’ll talk about for days. That’s the beauty of Battlefield.”

By pre-ordering Battlefield 4 at any participating retail outlet, gamers will receive a Premium expansion pack at no additional cost*. DICE also announced today Battlefield 4 Digital Deluxe, an Origin™ exclusive special edition that includes the base game and bonus in-game digital items. Players that pre-order Battlefield 4 Digital Deluxe* on Origin will also receive the Premium expansion pack as well as access to the exclusive Battlefield 4 multiplayer beta. This product has not yet been rated by the FPB (Film and Publication Board) in South Africa.

To view the first Battlefield 4 single player gameplay footage, please visit www.battlefield.com. To join the conversation on Battlefield 4, please visit http://www.facebook.com/battlefield, follow us on Twitter® at www.twitter.com/battlefield and #BF4, or sign up for the official Battlefield newsletter at www.battlefield.com. Press assets for Battlefield 4 are available at http://info.ea.com.

* Conditions and restrictions apply. See http://store.origin.com/promo?promoID=88022500&linkid=BF4_CLP for details.

“Compliance alone won’t save you from disaster” – why you need more than just the minimum

By admin, 28 marca, 2013, No Comment

The advent of King III, with its stringent demands on directors to exercise careful control over every aspect of the business, has been a gift for software vendors who can claim any link between their products and compliance. But, says James Beaumont of technology solutions company iSquared, mere compliance with the code is not enough.

“Compliance alone won’t save you from disaster,” says Beaumont, who is the CEO at iSquared. “Your IT infrastructure should not be built around meeting compliance targets – you need to be aiming much higher than that. It’s all about keeping the business going with minimal disruption, no matter what happens to your IT environment.”

One of the most important ways to avoid disruption, says Beaumont, is to ensure that backups are regular, reliable and tested – and that files and servers can be quickly recovered. “Veeam Backup and Replication is an indispensable tool for anybody running a virtual environment.”

Beaumont says it’s not at all unusual for a client to spend millions on “all-singing, all-dancing” high-end hardware – only to suffer days or weeks of business interruption when that hardware fails. “Even 100% virtualised environments still depend on physical servers and physical storage arrays,” he says. “Recently it took one of our clients two weeks to rebuild their storage array after a multiple disk failure. They made their time-to-recovery target in terms of the compliance rules, but it still hurt the business.”

“Nobody admits to it in public,” he adds, “but hardware failure is very, very common. It all still depends on mechanical moving parts, and it’s a fact of life that those are not immortal. We see disk failure in our own arrays. You have to plan for that inevitability.”

When IT budgets are constrained, says Beaumont, protecting core business infrastructure and data should be the top priority. “Never mind the software updates and the website,” he says. “You need to build and maintain a best-practice architecture, particularly if your business is running a virtualised environment that needs high availabililty.”

For iSquared, best practice includes using Veeam’s Backup Management Suite. “Veeam gives you backup, archiving, replication and reporting in one beautifully packaged suite,” he says. “We’ve never, ever put the software on trial and not got an order within three weeks. There is nothing in the market to touch Veeam for virtual-to-virtual backup.”

Veeam Backup and Replication “means the CIO and CEO can sleep at night,” says Beaumont. “Every backup is tested so you can be 100% sure you can actually restore from it. And when – not if – the time comes to restore a machine, it can be done in minutes, compared to days for a tape backup. You can also back up as often as you like, every few minutes if necessary.”

“If you’re already committed to spending millions a year on licences for your existing backup solution, it’s always going to hurt to replace it with something new,” concludes Beaumont. “But the costs of data loss can be much, much higher. No CIO or CEO of a company running  a virtualised environment can afford to be without the right backup and recovery solution.”

BlackBerry Experience Forum brings together enterprises in SA

By admin, 28 marca, 2013, No Comment

Event demonstrates business benefits of BlackBerry® 10 for enterprises in Africa

BlackBerry® is hosting the BlackBerry® Experience Foru for the enterprise community in Johannesburg today.

More than 350 South African enterprise customers and developers are attending the full day event (at Sandton Convention Centre), which is focused on showcasing the business benefits of the BlackBerry® 10 platform with the BlackBerry® Z10 smartphone and BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10.

Attendees will learn how BlackBerry’s completely re-invented suite of products, solutions and services work seamlessly together to enable enterprises of all sizes to easily deploy, manage, and secure BYOD and corporate mobile devices.

The event will feature customer presentations from leading local companies such as SAP, Cisco and Oracle.

More than 25 South African organisations are already running BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, while a further 100 are currently trialling BlackBerry 10. These include Alexander Forbes, Bowman Gilfillan, Dimension Data, Edcon, Netcare and Tiger Brands.

Says Alexandra Zagury, Managing Director, South and Southern Africa at BlackBerry. “We are delighted by the warm response that BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 have received from local public and private sector organisations looking for the gold standard in enterprise mobility management. Today, attendees will hear more about how this platform provides optimal usability and functionality for business customers, with no compromise to security and manageability.”

BlackBerry Experience Forum events are being hosted in countries around the world including Canada, The United States of America, France, Germany, Dubai, India and Australia. For more details on the event, please visit: http://www.blackberryexperienceforum.com/

 

Cloud or Cloud? That is the question

By admin, 28 marca, 2013, No Comment

“When approaching the subject of the Cloud, there is a choice between being strongly positive or enthusiastic. The wave in favour of the Cloud is so strong that views which attempt to even mildly address the need or even the relevance of the Cloud could make you look like a supporter of the past,” says Christophe Letellier CEO for Sage ERP X3. “However this has always been true with new technologies or business models; just look back to the early 2000s.”

Letellier says: “Cloud technology is not a revolution; it’s an evolution that materialises the maturity of the Internet. By definition the evolution will take time, a long time, when in contrast a revolution could change our world in weeks or months. As customers and suppliers, it has already taken us 15 years to get to where we are today with the Internet and it will probably take even longer before everything runs from the Cloud. The Cloud brings many good things to the software industry. It means solutions can be developed more quickly, agile development becomes standard and seamless upgrades are a given. Software vendors are changing and the Cloud is the trigger, but the change is embraced because it creates value for customers.”

According to Letellier the Cloud implies a different business model that is based on usage. The ‘per month, per user’ pricing model is the first step that will evolve into fully consumption-based pricing, which is good for customers. The Cloud will also open the ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) world to many more users than today. Because it’s more flexible and web based, the Cloud will provide much easier access to an ERP system. Executives from especially mid-sized companies will, at last, benefit from the mine of data that is created by their ERP system.

Letellier says: ”The Cloud has changed mindsets and offers a technical solution, but one can deliver the very same value to your customers via other delivery mechanisms. In the ERP world for instance, there are many examples of strong adoption of financials in the Cloud when manufacturing, which requires significant customisation and close connection to shop floor control systems. Does it mean your customers should be put on the side of the road? Today a vast majority of mid-sized companies do use their ERP systems on big clients without web access, when such systems have been available for over 10 years now. Why should we expect that adoption of full cloud solutions will be that much faster? And does this mean that our customers shouldn’t have access to its benefits?”

“Adoption of the Cloud is a long journey. Cloud will become a standard in one or two decades. The challenge though is what do you do for your customers in the meantime? The Cloud will not dominate for some time in the ERP space but it will profoundly change mindsets and drive software vendors in a new direction. Having sold web-based products like Sage ERP X3 for over 10 years, Sage is not afraid of this evolution. On the contrary, we welcome this change towards flexibility and openness. This has always been our motto. Building hybrid systems and leveraging the best of the on-premise and cloud worlds will help the transition, drive adoption, and create true value for our customers. Our customers are pragmatic so we have to be inventive,” concludes Lettellier.

 

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