Archive for Styczeń, 2014

The correct sensor technology is key to a successful biometric implementation

By admin, 14 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

It has been suggested recently that the South African biometrics industry is under threat from so-called ‘cowboys’ and fly-by-night operators. It is clear that service providers of this nature would pose an obvious threat to the development of the industry by fuelling negative perception of products and undermining the value of legitimate offerings.

The threat is certainly a significant one, says Nick Perkins, Divisional Director for Identity Management at Bytes Systems Integration. He suggests, however, that the real problem is that the biometrics industry as a whole tends to take the blame when projects fail, and this is often due to something as basic as incorrect sensor selection.

“This is usually caused by a customer not understanding the importance of a sensor that can provide good image capture capabilities and supreme matching performance in real world conditions. To understand the importance of such factors, one need only look to the financial services sector in this country. The banks in SA have selected Lumidigm multispectral imaging technology as the standard financial services industry sensor of choice for interacting with their customers biometrically,” says Perkins.

“These industries, along with telecommunications and retail, develop very large customer databases, and are therefore the sectors that will place the emphasis on highly effective technologies. Where Lumidigm is different from others is in the fact that it works in real world conditions.”

Lumidigm’s multispectral imaging, he explains, looks at and beyond the skin surface to the subsurface foundation of the fingerprint ridges. This subsurface information is both relevant to fingerprint capture and unaffected by surface wear and other environmental factors. The net result, adds Perkins, is that Lumidigm sidesteps the problems that more conventional technologies face when subjected to real world conditions. In addition, the subsurface capability allows the reader to discriminate between a real finger and a ‘spoof’ fingerprint.

Capturing high quality images is vital if one is to avoid what we in the industry call False Acceptance Rates (FAR) or False Rejection Rates (FRR) which occur when a sensor incorrectly accepts or rejects a live image that is being compared against a stored image within the system.”

He points out that in today’s market, a product is often pushed into a customer environment without considering the conditions under which the sensor is expected to perform. For example, the initial captured image in the database may have been taken in an office environment under controlled lighting, whereas the live scan image could be taken outside, with different lighting and complicated further by other factors, such as skin dryness or external moisture. The varying ages of users can also have an impact on a sensor’s ability to scan correctly. Lumidigm’s solution is able to effectively capture images across a broad age range, from children to the elderly.

“Even the de facto standards accepted by the industry are based on older fingerprint sensor technology, commonly called optical, where the sensor is imaging the fingerprint ridge impressions where they make contact with a piece of glass. Clearly, using a method that solely relies on information captured from the surface of the skin is one that can easily be affected by external environmental factors.”

“It is true that standards are often considered as a guide to choosing quality sensors,” continues Perkins, “but an increasing number of customers are now placing the emphasis on performance and waiving the standards that solely rely on surface information.”

“When it comes to high volume, performance-orientated environments, multispectral imaging sensors should always be considered in the selection process, as it is clear that these deliver the best performance in real world environments,” he concludes.

TPG Africa geared for growth

By admin, 14 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

Project and portfolio management specialist The Project Group (TPG) Africa is gearing up for expansion in 2014. The company aims to extend its operations in South Africa and Botswana, and grow its training business significantly.

TPG Africa offers products, consulting, training, resourcing and solutions around Microsoft’s Enterprise Project Management and SharePoint technologies. It develops add-on products for these Microsoft technologies, as well as offering bundled solutions, implementation services, support and training. Its resourcing arm provides specialist resources on a permanent or outsource basis. It also engages in value-added contracting, mentoring and coaching.

To date TPG Africa has made significant inroads into the mining, financial services, discrete manufacturing, process manufacturing, utilities, construction, government and professional services sectors.

As an organisation that is involved in helping organisations realise value from capital-intensive projects, says TPG Africa MD Dries van der Colff, it has not been impacted by reported slowdowns in the construction sector. “There is much more large projects activity in the mining and energy sectors than is generally known,” he comments.

The company has been engaged in large projects in Botswana in the past year and has established an office in the country. It will be exploring further opportunities in the mining and private sectors there in the new year.

Locally, the company has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and it plans to extend its CT operations and make further inroads in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

Partly driving this geographic expansion will be the growth of its training business. The company is partnering with a global provider to offer internationally-accredited, simulation-based project management training for the first time in South Africa and expects to see this gain significant traction in the market.

“We’re planning to take skills development to the next level,” says TPG Africa CEO Pieter Meyer. “It’s not only simulation-based training, it’s also mentorship, coaching, practical workshops and class-room training. “

TPG also has a large footprint in implementation services, says Meyer. “We play a strong role as an integrator and implementer, as well as offering consultancy advice to our clients.”

“2013 has been a great year for us,” says van der Colff, “with the most comprehensive Microsoft Project Server implementation ever done in South Africa successfully delivered. We’re looking forward to building on that into 2014 and innovating further in the products and solutions we offer the market, here and into the rest of Africa.”

TPG Africa parent TPG The Project Group will be kicking off the year with a bang – the company is the Diamond Sponsor of the Microsoft Project Conference 2014, to be held in February in California. TPG will be using the event to showcase a range of the solutions and best practices the company delivers globally through its operating subsidiaries, including TPG Africa.

COOKOO smartwatch extends our digital lives beautifully

By admin, 13 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

Gammatek has launched COOKOO, a beautifully designed smartwatch that combines analogue movement with digital display, seamlessly extending and managing your connected life.

The COOKOO, which has already raked up four international design awards*, features a smart and user-friendly interface which enables you to easily manage your phone, apps and social networks.

Available in black and white, the COOKOO offers an extra-long battery life with no charging which is a major differentiator. The watch uses a standard CR2032 button-cell battery that is easy to replace plus it will also remind that your smartphone battery is getting low.

“The COOKOO smartwatch is a practical and gorgeously designed extension of our digital lives. It is very easy to use and features such as “find my phone” makes it an invaluable accessory. With smartwatches gaining a lot of traction locally, the COOKOO is set to become a major player,” comments Zev Cherniak from Gammatek.

The COOKOO is compatible with all iOS 7 and Android 4.3 devices and the COOKOO Life App is available for download from the relevant app stores. The COOKOO Life App for example enables you to control the alerts and notifications you receive on the COOKOO watch whether you want to be notified by an icon, beep, or vibration.

Also, the customisable COMMAND button allows for specific actions such as snapping photos remotely, one-button Facebook check-in and tagging a location on a map.

The COOKOO smartwatch and Life App offer great features such as:

• Incoming and missed calls alerts
• Calendar reminders
• Social media posts and messages
• Out of range notification and low battery alert
• Photo/Video camera remote control
• Find My Phone feature
• One-button music control
• One-button Facebook check-in

The COOKOO smartwatch retails for R1699 and is available from Musica and Incredible Connection.

Innervation builds on its list of African firsts

By admin, 13 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

How the customer engages with a retailer at the checkout is one of the key differentiators in a hotly contested retail space – especially in a downturn economy. Integrating multiple value-added services through multiple customer contact channels has moved from a technology challenge to an operations and marketing imperative.

The sale and operation of financial services, gift cards, couponing and loyalty schemes has taken the retail domain into a new and complex space in which retailers often do not have the required skills.

Similarly, ensuring customers can conclude their transaction seamlessly, over multiple channels, whether it be point of sale, kiosk, self-service terminal, online or through a mobile device is now a requirement for a retailer who wants to hold on to repeat business and ensure incremental revenue growth.

“The user is not aware of the technical complexity, nor should they be. It’s all about the end-user experience and ensuring customers have a great experience, no matter what their purchasing requirement. After all, the final experience of their interaction is the lasting image they will be left with as they leave the store,” explains Ian Steyn, Executive at Innervation Value Added Services.

Choosing the right technology partner means finding a company who can ensure the correct level of focus and expertise on the product the retailer wants to offer as well as the seamless integration of such a product.

Over the past year, Innervation has delivered more than 40 integrations to retailer channel applications being used by a large number of retailers across South Africa, many of them counting as a first-to-market offering.

A good example of a high profile Innervation integration is the launch of the iTunes card solution now available through Pick n Pay.

“When we were brought in to handle the iTunes integration, we were able to take the existing Pick n Pay channel integration framework and rapidly integrate the support for iTunes cards. This not only dramatically reduced implementation time, but further enhanced the basket of products that is available through the Innervation Value Added Services (VAS) Platform. The aggregation capabilities of the VAS Platform and its unique integration framework allow retailers to quickly take advantage of a range of gift card products, via a single integration.” comments Ian Steyn.

Innervation’s ability to support the integration of innovative technology is further highlighted by the recent MPOS solution at a national retailer.

The solution was a first of its kind at a major retailer in South Africa. The integrated mobile point of sale solution was rolled out across a range of group stores, featuring iPod touch equipped devices with scanners and key pads. The device itself features an iPod touch that sits inside a VeriFone PAYware device, which provides a barcode scanner, magstripe and chip reader as well as a secure keypad on the underside of the device
The device encrypts each transaction and integrates wirelessly with the retailer’s system and the process for payment is the same as a person purchasing goods from a standard Point of Sale, except that staff can now assist customers from anywhere in the store.
One of the key benefits of the solution includes queue reduction, freeing up space within the store. The device can also be used by staff to check the price of items for customers and for stock taking. From the device, the payment transaction proceeds through the retailer’s system to Innervation and then on to the acquiring bank.

“In both examples we were able to take the specific user requirements and engineer a solution around these. We built on the technical success we had in place and were able to fashion a solution which brought in additional channels and product innovation.

“If a retailer requires a new channel or product added to their offering, they shouldn’t have to wait for their technical partners to first wrap their heads around the challenges. Delivering a fast and agile implementation to exact requirements requires a company who has a proven track record across a host of successful operating sites. More particularly, it requires a service provider who is constantly innovating ahead of the curve. If a retailer can conceptualise a user requirement we are at all times able to seamlessly integrate the solution,” Steyn declares.

Innervation continues on its pioneering trail and the market can expect to see further innovation over the coming months. This includes a new offering which will allow retailers of all sizes to accept card payments using a device connected to a mobile phone. This comprises the ability to use chip or magstripe functionality and will be a real game changer for the smaller and informal merchants.

 

Boston City Campus & Business College to be field global partner for Harvard Business School

By admin, 13 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

In January Boston City Campus is pleased to be hosting a team of students from Harvard Business School. The team of 6 MBA students will be in Johannesburg, working with the Boston Head Office team, for just over a week. This trip forms part of a required first-year course at Harvard Business School called FIELD, which stands for Field Immersion Experience for Leadership Development. An important element of the course incorporates a practical training exercise involving both educational institutions. “Boston is proud to have been selected as one of the 140 FIELD Global Partners spanning 10 countries around the world,” says Yaron Gutkin, Business development consultant at Boston, “We feel that this will be a mutually beneficial learning experience. Already some of our students have interacted with the Harvard student team, and this exchange has served to broaden our own student’s horizons and provide them with a unique insight into one of the world’s foremost universities. We are thrilled to be a part of this prestigious project”. Including Boston City Campus, the Global FIELD partners will host more than 900 students in all.

FIELD has three modules that run through the entire first year of the two- year MBA program. The first module focuses on developing individual leadership skills through team feedback and self-reflection. The second focuses on developing global intelligence by immersing them in a foreign country to develop a new product or service in country for their Global Partner organization. The final module brings all the lessons together by challenging students to develop and launch their own micro-business as part of a small team back in Boston Massachusetts.

Gutkin continues, “We are pleased to be working with Harvard Business School to provide foreign students with a real-world learning experience in Southern Africa. We feel confident that the students will gather invaluable insights whilst working with our staff and interacting with our students. I am confident that the unique exposure provided by the FEILD course will present students with a learning experience that they would be unlikely to gain form a more traditional and insular classroom environment. Real world work exposure has always been, and continues to be a keystone of Boston’s training philosophy, and we therefore feel a perfect fit exists with the FIELD programme and are excited to be able to participate”.

Boston executives have been working with the team remotely in the months leading up to their arrival in country. “Due to the large time differences it’s been an interesting challenge to set up our meetings but luckily up until now this has only proved to be a minor obstacle”, comments Gutkin. While here, the team will pitch their ideas to the leadership team, conduct field research with consumers around Gauteng and present their final recommendations to Boston management.

The Harvard FIELD project serves to reinforce the notion that we live in global village and form part of a wider global community. It is almost impossible to be involved in any form of work or education which is not frequently impacted by changing global trends. The modern pace at which news, knowledge and ideas are able to spread has led to an environment which fosters greater global social awareness and greater global responsibility. Gutkin says “By bringing two different international entities together to work towards a common goal, the Harvard FIELD course exhibits some of the benefits of living in a technological age which is able to strengthen global ties and build a positive global community. It stands as a testament to the rewards achieved from working and studying in the electronic age”.

Harvard is quick to acknowledge that this important learning experience would not be possible without the Global Partners.

“We are extremely grateful to Boston City Campus & Business College, and all the FIELD Global Partner organisations, for all they do on behalf of our students,” adds Professor Alan MacCormack, the faculty head of FIELD. “The students benefit immeasurably from this experience and we hope the partner organisations do as well.”

Motorola Solutions names Claas Kuehnemann Head of Enterprise Business

By admin, 13 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

Motorola Solutions, Inc. today announced that Claas Kuehnemann has been named Head of Enterprise Business in SSA and South Africa.

Kuehnemann, joins Motorola after an extensive career in major multinational technology corporations such as SAP and IBM, where he filled a number of executive roles. His latest position in IBM was Managing Partner, General Business, Global Business Services, Middle East & Africa, where his responsibilities included securing sales, revenue and profitability for IBM Global Business Services. Prior to joining IBM, he had a number of executive positions at SAP – Managing Direcor for South East Europe, Middle East & North Africa and Managing Director for SAP Africa and Senior Vice President Professional Services Europe, Middle East & Africa. In his new position Kuehnemann will be responsible of planning, developing and executing Motorola Solutions Enterprise Mobility’s strategy in South Africa and Sub Saharan Africa. He is based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Kuehnemann earned a combined Masters Degree in Engineering & Business Administration from the University of Darmstadt, Germany and completed an executive MBA program at INSEAD, Fontainebleau, France.

75% of companies in South Africa believe that BYOD is a growing threat to business security

By admin, 13 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

But few companies plan to impose restrictions on the use of personal mobile devices in the workplace locally

Most companies see the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend, where employees use their personal mobile devices for work purposes, as a growing threat to business. Yet, the percentage of companies taking measures to minimise this threat is relatively small, according to the results of the Global Corporate IT Security Risks 2013 survey, conducted by B2B International in collaboration with Kaspersky Lab. This survey involved interviews with representatives of companies in 24 countries, including South Africa.

Respondents in Japan expressed the most concern about this growing trend and its associated threats: 93% agreed that BYOD is a threat to their businesses. Companies in North America (69%) also voiced a high level of concern, as did those in the Middle East (65%), South Africa (75%) and Western Europe (62%). Russian companies were the least concerned, with 57% of participants acknowledging any threat posed by a BYOD policy.

At the same time, most companies do not plan to introduce any prohibitive measures against the use of personal devices at the workplace. On the contrary, about 21% of respondents locally said they plan to encourage the use of personal smartphones and tablets at work, while another 34% said they did not believe that prohibitive measures would prevent employees from using their own devices.

Nevertheless, the percentage of companies planning to restrict the use of personal devices for work purposes is on the rise: the number of respondents reporting plans to impose restrictions was up globally from 19% in 2012 to 25% in 2013, while in South Africa the figure is 30%. The percentage of companies planning to impose more stringent restrictions against the use of personal devices at work is unchanged from last year, at 10% globally – it is 14% in South Africa.

It’s easy to see why there are growing business concerns about threats posed by mobile devices: the survey also shows that the improper use of these devices is a frequent cause of IT security incidents, resulting in the loss of critical company data. Nearly 20% of respondents in South Africa said their companies had suffered confidential data leaks through mobile email clients, text messaging, and other channels available to smartphone and tablet owners.

But comparatively few companies are adopting specialised software products to protect themselves against such threats. Around 47% of companies in South Africa are using antivirus solutions to integrate, protect and manage mobile devices on the corporate network, and only 18% use Mobile Device Management solutions.

As BYOD becomes more commonplace and the number of incidents involving mobile devices grows, ensuring the centralised management of these devices and keeping them secure has become an important and relevant need. It is equally important that the solutions performing these functions are easy to use, easy to manage, and easy to integrate into the corporate network.

Kaspersky Security for Mobile is available either as a targeted solution or as a component of Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business. A mobile agent is installed at device level to provide advanced protection against anti-malware threats, while Mobile Device Management (MDM) makes the secure configuration of mobile devices and painless and straightforward. Corporate data can be isolated and encrypted in a container on the personal device, and thanks to Remote Find, Lock and Wipe, this data can be deleted if the device is lost or stolen. A single unified administrative console means that all corporate endpoints, including BYOD mobile devices, can be managed together in one integrated security platform.

Demystifying optical media

By admin, 13 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

By Ruben Naicker, Verbatim Product Specialist at Drive Control Corporation

While storage devices such as flash drives and portable hard disks have grown in popularity, there is still a huge market for optical media storage such as CDs, DVDs and the latest format Blu-ray Discs, particularly when it comes to music, movies and the mass distribution of information. Optical media is highly affordable, easy to create and duplicate, and an ideal alternative for transporting and sharing information. However, with the sheer variety of different optical media available, selecting the right one for the job can prove tricky. You need to know your +R from your –R, your Blu-ray from your dual-layer, and your rewriteable from your printable to navigate the world of optical storage media.

Compact Discs (CDs)

These are the oldest of the available digital optical media formats, with audio CDs becoming widely available in the 1980’s. They were originally developed for sound recordings and music and were later adapted for data storage. CD R discs offer write-once audio and data storage, while CD RW is a rewritable format, which means the data on the disc can be erased and written over for multiple uses. CDs can hold just over 700 Megabytes (MB) of data, which in today’s data driven world have made them all but obsolete, since hard drives far exceed this capacity and music is now easily downloaded and shared in digital format. CDs are now mainly used as an inexpensive way of distributing information such as brochures, lectures, notes and slides, and also for recording downloaded music onto a format that is able to play in cars. Most computers come standard with a DVD reader/writer, which is also able to burn and read CDs.

Digital Video Discs (DVDs)

DVDs today are typically DVD+R discs, whereas the DVD-R is an older standard that has been phased out due to limited compatibility. DVD+R is a write-once optical storage disc that offers 4.7 Gigabytes (GB) of storage space. They are generally used for non-volatile data storage as well as for video applications. DVD+R discs can only be written once, after which the data cannot be changed. DVD-RW is a rewritable DVD that can be erased and rewritten up to 1000 times. A DVD reader and writer is standard equipment on most computers today, which makes the DVD a useful medium for distributing fairly large amounts of information or video in an affordable way.

Dual-Layer DVDs

Dual-layer DVDs are double sided DVDs that in effect offer twice as much storage capacity as a standard DVD+R disc, with up to 8.5GB of capacity. In all other respects, a dual-layer DVD is identical, and can be read and written on a standard DVD player and burner, with no special equipment required.

Blu-ray Discs (BD)

Blu-ray is the latest optical disc format technology, developed to enable recording, rewriting and playback of High Definition (HD) video, as well as storing large amounts of data. A single layer Blu-ray can hold up to 25GB of data, and dual layer formats can hold up to 50GB. Blu-ray is mainly used in the video space, as it is capable of delivering very high quality pictures. Blu-ray requires a special player to read, and a special writer to burn discs, and is therefore not commonly used for data storage on computers. Blu-ray players, however, are backward compatible with DVDs and CDs. Several types of Blu-ray discs are available. The BD-R is a standard write-once disc for use in Blu-ray players supporting 6x BD-R format. The BD-RE is a rewritable version of this, where data can be erased and rewritten up to 1000 times per disc. BD-R SL discs are standard write-once discs that have a printable surface compatible with specialist printers, making them perfect for video production companies and marketing collateral.

Optical media – the perfect option for affordable duplication and data storage

Hard drives, Solid State Drives (SSDs) and flash drives may have gotten cheaper, and digital music may have seen a decline in the CD space, but the reality is that optical media still plays a vital role. For affordable mass production of information, transfer and playback of media on devices in the home and the car, and compact durable storage of information, the range of optical media is ideal. Choosing the right medium will ensure that these benefits are maximised and video, content and data can be stored, shared and retrieved for years to come.

ATIO awarded Level 2 B-BBEE Status

By admin, 13 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

Specialist ICT services company, ATIO, is pleased to announce that it has been awarded Level 2 B-BBEE Status and has been recognized as a Value-Adding Supplier (VAS) by the BEE Verification Agency, Mazars. Being a black owned company contributed to ATIO’s improved status level, which now entitles ATIO’s customers to claim 312.5% recognition of their procurement spend with ATIO for their own B-BBEE certification.

“Black Economic Empowerment has always been a priority for ATIO,” remarked ATIO’s CEO, Chris Van der Sande. “We are committed to transformation through the staff equity and procurement strategies that form the foundation of our day to day endeavours. At ATIO, we regard training and skills development not as an obligation, but as an investment in the future of not only ATIO, but in South Africa as a whole.”

Van der Sande noted that ATIO’s Level 2 Status and recognition as a Value-Adding Supplier will give ATIO a marked advantage over companies that have a lower rating, as ICT customers tend to take supplier ratings into account before making purchasing decisions. “We believe that what makes ATIO unique is our skills and business ethics. It’s a philosophy that has led us to develop a culture and style different to any other ICT organisation, delivering greater benefits and value to our clients,” concludes Chris Van der Sande.

Proven, reliable, affordable WD Sentinel network storage servers for SMB

By admin, 10 stycznia, 2014, No Comment

Data is the heart of any organisation and businesses need to be able to store, protect and share this information. While large enterprises have IT specialists on the job, the Small to Medium Business (SMB) does not necessarily have this luxury. The WD Sentinel range offers the ideal solution – reliable, secure and easy-to-manage network storage servers designed specifically for small business environments.

WD Sentinel products are easy to install and provide secure centralized storage, complete data protection and data access for your employees, clients or vendors while in the office or working remotely from anywhere. Featuring hardware and software from industry leaders, it delivers a reliable, cost effective and easy-to-manage storage server designed for small office environments.

WD Sentinel X Series

WD Sentinel DX4000 and RX4100 Small Business Storage Servers available in rack and desktop form factors featuring hard drives optimised for reliability, quality and performance, an Intel Atom dual core processor, and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials, and Microsoft operating system. Delivering a reliable, secure and easy-to-manage storage server, the Sentinel X Series is designed specifically for small office environments.

New WD Sentinel S-Series

WD Sentinel S-Series features two ultra compact storage plus servers – the WD Sentinel DS5100 and DS6100 – that are ideal for small businesses looking for an ultra-compact unified storage solution with integrated iSCSI SAN, NAS and server-based backup technology. The S-Series delivers an all-in-one, network storage plus server in an ultra-compact form factor that is easy to deploy, configure and install unlike standard ‘do-it-yourself’ disk arrays. The S-Series is designed as network-attached storage that runs Microsoft applications, including line-of-business applications like QuickBooks. These storage plus servers are ideal for businesses looking for an ultra-compact unified storage solution. The S-Series offers an integrated dashboard to simplify management. They offer integrated iSCSI SAN and NAS network storage, as well as network backup for 50 computers or devices. They can also be configured as a DNS or DHCP server. This 8 x 9 x 6-inch appliance is equipped with a large, quiet fan and can be deployed in any business environment.

Designed with the SMB in mind

Everything about the WD Sentinel family of products – simple installation, ease of use and maintenance, high capacity storage and leading software – is designed with the SMB in mind. For small business owners and managers as well as IT consultants to businesses, the WD Sentinel range of products are perfect for the job, delivering everything a business needs to centralise data storage and for data backup.

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