Archive for ‘Kserokopiarki’

South Africa’s ICT industry – lacking women at the helm

By admin, 1 kwietnia, 2014, No Comment

South Africa’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) industry is slowly transforming to be more welcoming and accessible to women. Over the past few years, a number of senior female executives have moved up the ranks, but the numbers, compared to male counterparts are still low. Kgabo Ralebepa, Associate Director in the IT Audit division at SekelaXabiso believes it is up to her female counterparts to turn these figures around.

Women should focus on developing their business and leadership skills which will enable them to take up leadership roles within any organisation. This can be done by further developing their management skills and getting involved in other areas of their respective businesses.

Typically, women in the South African ICT industry are more focused on the technical aspects of IT. As one of the few black women in South Africa who has risen to the level of a decision maker in ICT, I believe it’s time to change and do things differently. We need to acquire business skills in order to move to higher decision making roles.

Statistics such as those released by the Institute of Information Technology Professionals (IITPSA) state that 56% of global ICT professional jobs are held by women, but in South Africa – where women comprise 55% of the country’s entire workforce – only 20% of the ICT workforce are women.

What these numbers do not reflect is the fact that more than 68% of South African women have enrolled in the ICT related courses at tertiary institutions in the last few years. Most tertiary institutions’ science and technology faculties are also dominated by female students these days.

The first step of learning new skills and getting involved in other areas of the business is to understand the business models, learn how other business units such as operations, finance, HR and marketing operate and develop interpersonal and leadership skills.

Secondly, join a firm which will offer enough exposure to training and clients. Accounting firms such as SekelaXabiso are leading the way when it comes to empowering women in this manner, giving women in the IT Audit business unit the opportunity to be at the helm.

As one of SekelaXabiso’s biggest clients, Transnet is making an effort by appointing women to lead their bigger ICT projects. As one of key decision makers within Transnet – and a member of the group executive committee reporting directly to the Group Chief Executive – Group Executive: Enterprise Information Management Systems Mantsika Matooane plays an important role in making sure that the needs of the business and IT users are met.

SekelaXabiso’s IT Audit business unit assists companies such as Transnet manage the business risks associated with the use of information systems and build sustainable solutions to improve the overall controls of their IT environments.

The ICT industry is transforming and more welcoming to women – the opportunity is in our hands now. I urge women to take initiative, get involved in other areas of the business, learn, lead and take charge.

Prank programmes, altruistic malware and stoned viruses: Kaspersky Lab remembers ‘benign’ malware

By admin, 1 kwietnia, 2014, No Comment

In the history of malware writing and malware hunting, there are a number of unusual stories involving programmes which looked like typical malware – but did nothing more damaging than putting a smile on users’ faces. In a few extraordinary cases, viruses were even seen getting rid of dangerous malware or optimising the computer’s resources. To mark April Fools’ Day, Kaspersky Lab looks back at the “benign malware” which has occasionally spread over the World Wide Web.

The first known computer virus in history was a harmless specimen. It was called the Creeper, and it appeared in 1971, written by an employee at the US Ministry of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. This primitive worm looked for other computers on the network – which back then was a small, localised affair, copied itself to them and displayed the following message: “I’M THE CREEPER: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.” If Creeper found an existing copy of itself on a computer, it simply “jumped over” to another computer. It did not cause any harm to the computer system.

Stoned was another “fun” virus whose main purpose was to promote a message to the user. It was first detected in 1988 in New Zealand. The original version of this virus landed on a computer system via the floppy disk drive, and, just like Creeper, did not cause any harm to the computer. It simply displayed the message on the screen: “Your computer is now stoned. Legalise Marijuana.”

The “prank virus” title is deservedly held by HPS, a programme which was created specifically for the Windows 98 operating system but in fact spread months before this environment was released. One of the odd things about this virus was that it was only active on Saturdays: once a week it reversed non-compressed bitmap graphic objects. In other words, it mirrored the entire display on the monitor.

The Cruncher virus also turned out to be absolutely benign. On the face of it, it was a regular resident file virus, and used an algorithm to compress data and pack the infected file, so the infected file was shorter than the original. This freed up room on the user’s hard drive. Moreover, it turned out that Cruncher used a compression algorithm from the then-popular utility DIET 1.10, so the user could use this absolutely legal programme to unpack the files infected by the virus and regain access to the data, while still enjoying the extra space created on the hard drive.

The Welchia virus also became famous for its good deeds. This was one of the most unusual worms in the history of cyber threats. Although its creators designed it to be malicious, Welchia did not in fact cause any harm. On the contrary, it helped to remove the dangerous Lovesan worm, also known as Blaster, from the system. By imitating the behaviour of this malicious programme, Welchia penetrated a computer using vulnerabilities in legal software. Then it checked if Blaster was present in the processor memory: if so, it stopped its operation and deleted the entire malicious file from the disk. This was not the end of Welchia’s mercy mission: after eliminating the malware, the “benign” virus checked if there was an update in the system to patch the vulnerability through which the worm penetrated the system. If not, the virus initiated a download from the manufacturer’s site. Welchia then destroyed itself after completing all these operations.

“These examples of funny, innocuous and even helpful viruses are of course very rare exceptions to the general rule, and are essentially tales from bygone days. Modern malware writers are no longer cyber pranksters or newbie hackers learning the ropes in a new sphere of activity. Today, practically 100% of viruses are written with just one goal in mind: stealing money or confidential data,” said Alexander Gostev, Chief Security Expert at Global Research & Analysis Team, Kaspersky Lab.

Embedding new business processes – the key to bringing an organisational strategy to life

By admin, 1 kwietnia, 2014, No Comment

Organisations can dramatically enhance the return on investment from new business systems by investing in user adoption programmes to embed new business processes deeply into their cultures and workflows.

That’s the word from Lyndsey Moorhouse, managing director at Can!Do, who says that user adoption programmes allow for tight alignment of operational outcomes from new systems and processes with the organisation’s strategic goals. She adds that such programmes break down organisational siloes and ensure closer integration of the organisation’s departments and functions.

Says Moorhouse: “Helping process operators not only to understand how the system helps them carry out their own tasks, but also how their work impacts on the whole organisation is key to ensuring the success of a new business solution.

“Once users understand their role in the business processes and understand the impact they have on the business, they are better able to perform in a way that enhances the performance of the whole organisation. They understand how their work links into the business’s strategy as well as how it helps other people do their work.”

Moorhouse says that the lack of this contextual understanding among users is one of the major reasons for new systems failing to deliver on expectations. “It is easy for top management to formulate a vision for a new business system – not as easy to translate this into organisational action,” she adds. “The reality is that even departmental heads and middle managers often lack insight into how their departments impact on business performance.”

Moorhouse says that business metrics that are silo-based need to change as companies put in place integrated systems. Older ways of measuring and rewarding managers based only on their own performance does not help to encourage cross-functional collaboration.

It’s also important that business process champions with a cross-functional view of the organisation are empowered to lead business process design as well as user adoption strategies. Their job should be to ensure that the process – as it spans multiple departments – delivers the performance that the business is looking for.

“They should measure and optimise the whole process to ensure that it delivers optimal performance for the organisation and that it aligns with the organisational strategy,” she says. “They create, approve and measure the process, and then help to embed it in the organisation through training and change management initiatives.”

“Process owners need to be people with a big picture view of the organisation, a strong feel for operations, and strategic insight,” Moorhouse says. “They need to be good collaborators who have the language to translate between strategy and operations.

A step down from that, operational managers need to be incentivised and trained to focus as much on the whole process as they do on their own tasks.”

“Whether they’re in procurement, finance, distribution, HR, manufacturing or product marketing, they need to know how their business processes link into the organisation’s performance.”

Calitz to attempt Guinness World Record on Table Mountain

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

He set a new course record in 2012. Then, he set another in 2013 when he ascended more than the height of Mt Everest – from sea level – in 11 hours. Now K-Way athlete AJ Calitz is going for a bigger record; the Guinness World Record for ‘Greatest vertical height climbing stairs in 12 hours’. In April, Calitz will attempt to run up Table Mountain’s Platteklip Gorge more than 14 times during the 2014 edition of the K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge.

The annual K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge (PCC), a tough chellenge that is fast achieving cult-like status, sees individual and team participants ascending Table Mountain’s popular Platteklip Gorge hiking trail. They descend via the cableway, return to the bottom of the Gorge and attempt to complete as many 5.5-kilometre loops as possible between sunrise and sunset. It is a very steep and challenging 2.1-kilometre climb up 800 double-size steps that ascends 760 metres from bottom to top.

After a few laps, participants are increasingly thankful for the event’s partnership with the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway for the opportunity to rest their legs on the scenic and speedy ride back down.

Calitz holds the record, which he set last year, for the most number of ascents in the 11-hour duration of the race. His 12 summits add up to an accumulative 9,120 metres of climb – that’s almost 300-metres higher than Mt Everest from sea level to summit!

This Guinness World Record attempt falls under the category of “Greatest vertical height climbing stairs in 12 hours”. The current record of 10,060 metres is held by Chris Solarz (USA). He repeatedly climbed 48 flights of stairs of the Three Logan Place building in Philadelphia in June 2011.

As the record is all about accumulated climb, Calitz will ascend Platteklip, run from the top of the Gorge to the cable station, take the cable car down and then bundle into a waiting car, which will take him swiftly to the bottom of the Gorge for his next ascent. He is aiming for at least 14 ascents, which will better the existing record.

Even though the cable car trip down takes only a few minutes Calitz has learned from past experience the value of keeping warm. He has a K-Way jacket stashed in the cable car to quickly pull on for the chilly descent. It should then take him less than two minutes to run from the cable station to the waiting vehicle.

“Driving from the cableway to the start of Platteklip, instead of running, will save me at least five or six minutes per lap and I’ve got the chance to relax and feed properly in the car,” Calitz explains.

“The ride also gives me the chance to recover mentally for the next one. When you’ve completed a lap or two and know you have another 13 to go… this time to relax is important.”

Supportive family, friends and sponsors will be there to cheer him up the mountain – again, again and again.

“K-Way gear has been worn to the top of countless mountains, including Kilimanjaro and Everest. It has been to some of the most inhospitable places in Africa, on the back of Kingsley Holgate. But we haven’t been involved in a World Record attempt – yet,” says Nick Bennett, head of marketing for the K-Way brand.

“AJ just keeps getting stronger and faster; we’ll be with him every step of the way.”

The K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge has supported Sinenjongo High School since 2012. The event raises funds through donations, which are linked to runner profiles from the ‘Sponsor’ tab on the event website. Sinenjongo is located in the impoverished community of Joe Slovo Park, in the Cape Town suburb of Milnerton. The community has a high rate of unemployment and is home to a large number of child-headed households.

Funding from sponsors together with contributions raised through PCC provides salaries for additional English, maths and science teachers as well as a part-time social worker. These people are role models and mentors to the existing teachers as well as the students. The school is a beacon of hope for this community. Teachers show up for school, parents attend school meetings and children are proud to be learning at Sinenjongo.

The K-Way Platteklip Charity Challenge starts at 07h00 on Saturday, 5 April 2014. You can get involved in this event by entering as an individual runner or recruiting friends and colleagues to make a team of 2 or 3 people. If running is not your thing, cheer for the Challenge participants as they race along Tafelberg Road and sponsor a runner through the event website at www.charitychallenge.co.za.

 

The importance of information management in animal feed manufacturing

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

A sector that produces almost 11 million tonnes of feed and is calculated at between 22 and 25 billion rand, the South African animal feed industry faces a number of challenges, with the maintenance of good profit margins and acceptable levels of plant and equipment utilisation now critical factors in ensuring the survival of these organisations.

Braam Koekemoer, ERP lead: technical and pre-sales at Datacentrix, an integrated ICT solutions and services provider and Sage ERP X3 partner, explains that a number of recent local and international market conditions have caused instability within the industry, giving rise to a complex and changing environment.

“The current exchange rate volatility makes it very difficult to accurately forecast feed costs and prices,” he explains. “In addition, lower volumes of birds are being produced by the local poultry farming industry due to a lack of regulation around the import of chicken meat. This in turn has had a direct impact on animal feed production, with import duties and control issues causing additional difficulties.”

Further pressures include spiralling energy costs, which are showing a continuous increase above inflation levels, and labour forces demanding double figure salary increases.

“Unfortunately, feed manufacturing managers cannot control these external factors,” Koekemoer explains. “What they can – and should – however do is to focus on the internal factors that can be controlled.”

From an information systems perspective, a feed mill manager’s job covers a number of areas, including:

  • Customer order management and customer service;
  • Purchasing and raw materials receiving, production, packing and bulk outloading;
  • Inventory management;
  • Compliance, tracking and traceability;
  • Formulation, labelling and quality; and
  • Pricing, costing and quotations.

“Customer orders and service ultimately drive the feed manufacturing business. Without customers, your business will not exist. The feed industry market is highly competitive, and therefore these companies need to provide excellent customer service at all times.”

Inaccurate sales orders, incorrect sales pricing, erroneous delivery dates, as well as insufficient credit management, are all typical issues that have a direct impact on customer order management and customer service.

Adds Koekemoer: “On the other hand, for customers to get what they want, at the best price and an acceptable quality on time, it is crucial to ensure that the procurement and receiving of raw materials, the planning and execution of production, as well as the loading and dispatching of feed, are all properly managed.”

He explains that inventory is probably the single biggest working capital investment of any feed mill. “Physical inventory and the inventory management systems are frequently the areas most affected by ineffective management. An organisation can have the best customer service and a cutting edge formulation system, but without the correct inventory, it will reach a dead end.”

Here, challenges such as the improper management of stock levels, expired stock due to inefficient stock rotation, unacceptable valuation and quantity variance issues, and inaccurate stock valuations can all be caused by a lack of inventory management.

“An increasing challenge over the past few years has been the recall of pet food due to contaminated raw materials. The real question here is, what do you recall if you can’t trace the problem? With a proper tracking and traceability system, the process for locating the problematic products and issuing a recall warning is much easier.”

The biggest procurement, receiving, production and bulk outloading concern is that users are reluctant to maintain lot numbers at the receiving point of raw materials. Either existing systems do not have lot number functionality, management does not realise the importance of lot control, or the existing system can handle lot numbers, but batching and “loadout” systems don’t have the ability to handle lot numbers. At the same time, lot numbers that are automatically applied according to a “first-in-first-out” principle, but are not verified, can lead to a situation where system-generated lot numbers differ from physical lot numbers, with no access to recall information.

Feed formulation is driven by required formula specifications and the actual nutritional value of raw materials. Inaccurate information on raw material nutritional values can be catastrophic, as the end result will be a formula that is completely out of specification.

One step that can be taken to support feed mill managers in the day-to-day management of their businesses is to implement a reliable Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solution, with reporting tools that can provide real time information for quick decision making.

“A quality information system can play a pivotal role in the formulation process,” says Koekemoer. “The actual raw material nutritional values are recorded and passed through to the formulation system, which guarantees an accurate basis of formulation. An analysis of the feed will then ensure that it complies with the required specifications.”

Labelling, or tagging, is a legal requirement of Act 36 of 1947, and it is good practice that both packed and bulk products are accompanied by a tag that states the product, packing, feeding instructions, additive warnings and manufacturer information. Non-compliance exposes the feed manufacturer to legal actions.

Pricing plays a key role in the retention of customers within the feed industry and the sustaining of profit margins. On the other hand, accurate costing will also contribute towards more precise profitability.

The biggest challenges in this area include delays in price increases and decreases, a lack of visibility around process recoveries, such as pelleting and bagging, meaning that they cannot be posted to the general ledger automatically, and non-existent pricing per item, price lists per customer, price letters and quotations. In addition, cumbersome, manual quotations and overhead costs not reflected in inventory valuation can also be problematic.

“The consequence of not tackling the challenges outlined above can be disastrous for an animal feed manufacturer,” Koekemoer concludes. “However, by timeously addressing these issues, organisations stand to gain a number of benefits, including high customer satisfaction and retention, lower costs and stock losses, improved margins and smoother operations. They will also enhance governance and compliance levels, and eliminate brand erosion.”

Ensuring faster, more efficient, personalised customer communication

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Social media is becoming an increasingly popular channel of communication for consumers wanting to lodge complaints about poor service or inferior products. Does this mark a change in preference over more traditional routes, such as telephone, fax, e-mail and the web?

According to Mark Edwards, Intuate Group director and CTO, this shift poses a significant challenge to the traditional call centre, where call handlers are accustomed to gauging the level of dissatisfaction of their customer, by listening during a call and responding accordingly.

He explains that these dynamics in consumer behaviour are forcing “call” centres further down the journey of becoming efficient “contact” centres. In truth, a different communication medium between an organisation and its customer should not be that foreign. Not too long ago, irate customers may have used the postal service to vent their anger. The company in question could then respond back in mail or call the customer. Theoretically then, call centres were already dealing with more than one communication medium and the associated challenges already existed. Then came fax, followed by SMS, e-mail, the web and chat.

“Due to technology limitations, contact centres were generally forced to deal with each of these media as separate channels, something that brought its own challenges, including more agents, additional space, extra managers, bigger payroll. At the same time, there was the overwhelming responsibility to respond to the customer quickly, efficiently and hopefully, in their preferred medium of communication. It is no secret that call centres still struggle with this.

“The evolution of contact centre technologies has sought to address these challenges by bringing multi-channel and unified communication platforms to market,” Edwards says. “And telcos have pitched in by driving convergence in telecommunications. Problem solved, right? Unfortunately not.”

He maintains that consumers’ hasty journey to social media represents a whole new world of challenges for the contact centre, even beyond multi-channel (media) management, with which organisations are still struggling.

“The good news is there are numerous cost effective tools, utilities and services available to assist organisations to listen to the social media ‘buzz’ regarding your company. Regrettably, due to the different nature of the social media, it’s difficult to find a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Some are more focused on the blogosphere, others more appropriate for Twitter and still others are great for Facebook and LinkedIn. The principle is that they exist and they work.”

The obvious challenge, he explains, is the management of this new stream of data as opposed to just the monitoring. “We have seen many organisations trying to solve this problem by adopting and deploying complex CRM systems and attempting to integrate the media channel into these tools. This is extremely complicated and inevitably costly to achieve. A slight adjustment in the approach towards a customer interaction management strategy, as opposed to trying to achieve this in CRM, is a viable and more feasible option.

“The view is that all the information about your customer remains within your CRM system, but the history and management of when and how you last interacted and when and how you need to interact again, is managed and recorded within your interaction engine. The relevant data can then be shared between the two reliably and as regularly as required. The trick is to ensure that the solution driving the agent – customer interaction – is able to provide a single pane view into the CRM; ostensibly, a unified desktop.

“If this all sound like pie-in-the-sky or bleeding edge technology, it’s not. True unified communications platforms for the contact centre do exactly that, efficiently, cost effectively and productively, avoiding the need to increase the workforce substantially. Multi-channel management within these platforms is pretty standard nowadays. For social media, simple gateways pass the data from the social media listeners and the interactions to call handlers as if they were any other medium.

“Clearly, organisations should handle social media interactions differently to more traditional communications, because of the their nature to potentially broadcast to a greater community. However, the principle in managing the interaction should be the same – quickly, efficiently and in the preferred medium of communication.”

Edwards believes that many companies shy away from even considering these solutions because of the preconceived idea that the technologies are way too costly. “While it is true that contact centre technologies represent a significant investment,” he says, “the advantage most contact centres have is access to data and statistics that can prove the business case. It is possible for organisations to gauge the cost of reputational and brand damage on social media. Performance and statistical assessments addressing abandoned interactions via other channels is also deterministic. Since up to 80 percent of contact centre operational costs pertain to human resource and associated infrastructure, the mere saving in extra workforce required to handle social media alone, can justify the expenditure.”

Edwards says that a further concern preventing organisations from exploring the above approach is that it will lead to a significant investment in existing systems being written off. “However, most modern contact centre solutions can interface with existing systems such as PBXs and ACDs, as well as CRM and call centre management systems. They live side by side but must take over the core management of the interaction with your customer and present a simple, single screen to the call handler and report to the CRM database.

“The reality is that social media challenge for contact centres is addressable, but needs to be approached with a sensible technology-centric strategy. It is extremely difficult to achieve the levels of service the consumer demands by managing the interactions with your customer in separate silos of communication channels,” he concludes.

Rectron offers finance options for Microsoft Volume Licensing Customers

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Rectron partners with finance house, Merchant West to provide significant financial relief for SMB Customers

The Mustek Group, a leading distributor of computers, peripherals and accessories has today announced its new finance option for Microsoft Volume Licensing (VL). Rectron has partnered with Merchant West to bring the offering to market. This will empower Customers to acquire Volume Licensing through affordable and spread payments instead of an upfront once off cash payment.

This solution, which is the first of its kind in South Africa, was born out of The Group’s understanding of the financial pressures that many companies and particularly small to medium businesses (SMB) are under. Instead of acquiring these assets by using cash resources, the Customer has the flexibility to lease over a period of time. This allows for the Customer’s cash to be directed towards core activities.

Microsoft Volume Licensing finance option is the perfect offering for businesses of all sizes that are looking to leverage the benefits of software and ultimately define an appropriate IT software strategy for their organisations. The finance option on the Volume Licensing helps businesses to lower the total cost of ownership over the lifetime of their IT investments.

“Through our financing service, we are making it easier and more affordable for SMBs to access the rich benefits that Microsoft’s licensing programmes offer. This will also help South African SMBs to keep up to date with the latest software offerings and the productivity benefits they deliver. The value for our Resellers lies in the fact that this finance option will create new opportunities in enabling them to expand and develop their own software licenses,” says Elaine Wang, Microsoft business unit manager for the Mustek Group*.

Another key initiative aimed at the channel is The Mustek Group’s License 2 Lead campaign, which is a tiered loyalty programme that sees Resellers receiving multiple benefits. These include: access to exclusive events and training, dedicated communications and marketing initiatives, member only incentives, and the ability to earn points that accrue to prizes.

“In this fiercely competitive market, the ultimate differentiator boils down to truly understanding the needs of the market. As a group, we are constantly reviewing means by which we can deliver value along the channel chain and gear our Resellers for success, so that they in turn can make life easier for their Customers. We look forward to seeing the extremely positive impact that this VL finance option will have on the market,” concludes Wang.

 

Jasco Converged Solutions reduces large-scale communications complexity

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Jasco Electronics Holdings (The Jasco Group), through its Converged Solutions Division, has refreshed its entire IT infrastructure in a move to consolidate its IT communications and harness the latest technology to better serve its customers.

Says Paul McKibbin, MD of Jasco Networks, “We started off with a complete audit of the Group’s IT infrastructure which allowed us to identify where the pain points were and what their current strengths and weaknesses are.”

“We soon realised that there were a lot of disparate systems in different divisions and branches, mostly legacy systems which were acquired through acquisitions and mergers. This made the infrastructure difficult to administrate and maintain. Additionally, with users using so many different devices to access the corporate network, we also identified certain security risks at various end-points of the infrastructure.”

He says knowing that IT is an enabler for business to provide a better service to its customers, the group realised Converged Solutions provide the business with an edge over its competitors, adding that as businesses move to a more cloud-based environment, the demand for bandwidth dramatically increases, which needs to be carefully managed.

After presenting its findings and recommendations to the board, the Division got the go-ahead to implement a robust communications infrastructure that allows for fast, secure access via Fibre connectivity and wireless LAN to hosted email and the Internet, as well as Voice over IP (VoIP) at its head office.

“From a Jasco Converged Solutions perspective, the Jasco Group is a typical customer that we serve as their strategy, like ours, is to move to a more managed services and applications in a data environment,” he adds.

Jasco Converged Solutions assisted the Group to simplify and reduce the costs of its inter-branch communications with one invoice from one service provider. With this converged communication environment, the number of disparate services have been reduced and consolidated under one technology umbrella, managed by Jasco Converged Solutions. This not only simplified the communications environment but also drastically reduced costs as well.

Since the implementation of the VoIP platform at Jasco head office in April 2013, the group has realised savings of 31% on previous costs over a six month period from April to September. Communications represent a significant cost centre for the business. The savings realised from the new solution will continue to pay off over the long-term.

“This was a great opportunity for us to demonstrate our capabilities to the Group, and by providing the services in-house, it also provided a case study for us to showcase to our current and potential customers. Overall, we have reduced the group’s technology complexity. The network is now easier to manage and troubleshoot if there are problems. Furthermore, there is one point of accountability and a better level of support via a single support centre,” he concludes.

Metrofile group company Global Continuity SA strengthens management team

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Global Continuity South Africa – a group company of JSE-listed Metrofile Holdings Limited – has strengthened its management team with the recent appointment of Greg Comline as its new General Manager. The appointment is in line with the group’s strategy to expand its current offerings to better cater for client’s requirements.

Commenting on his new role, Comline says he will drive efficiencies throughout the group’s operations to best deliver tailored solutions to meet clients’ needs. In line with this, Global Continuity is investing in appropriate technologies so as to deliver Business Continuity services efficiently.

Comline predicts that over the next 12 months local businesses will continue to improve their resilience for business continuity through virtualisation and mobile technologies. “We anticipate an increased demand for efficient online backups and for new ways for clients to use disaster recovery sites”.

In many ways, South African businesses are following the trends that we are seeing globally, says Comline. “Companies are becoming more resilient and are reducing the need for large work area recovery sites. As a result, companies are demanding efficient solutions from business continuity service providers. In alignment with this, Global Continuity South Africa is basing current and future investment on providing scalability and flexibility to clients through a range of solutions.”

Global Continuity South Africa will be working closely with Metrofile to expand its online backup solutions with the end goal of enabling clients to securely back up their data with faster recovery times, says Comline. “This will assist clients with the recovery of their operations, meaning that clients will be able to consolidate a number of services through Metrofile.”

Comline’s previous experience includes developing the Deloitte Digital business where he assisted clients with internet and mobile strategies and developing solutions based on changing technologies. Prior to Deloitte, he completed his Master of Business Administration through the Gordon Institute of Business Science and managed manufacturing systems at South African Breweries.

 

Gijima’s turnaround strategy shows solid traction

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

JSE-listed South African information and communication technology company Gijima’s turnaround strategy has shown significant progress, CEO Eileen Wilton said at the announcement of Gijima’s 2013 interim financial results.

Gijima has restored profitability, with earnings before interest, tax and depreciation (EBITDA) showing a positive result of R2,7 million, from a reported loss of R100 million in the comparative period up to 31 December 2012. Wilton said this was despite continued pressure on top-line performance, resulting in a 19% drop in revenue, because of a tough market, the full impact of the expiry of two contracts from FY 2012, and certain customer delays in awarding contracts. No dividend has been declared for the period under review.

Wilton said that in the last 12 months Gijima has concluded contract renewals, in some cases with increased scope, to the value of R1,6 billion, thereby renewing more than a third of our annual annuity base. “This is an important indication that our continued efforts to attract and retain significant clients, even in a strong competitive environment, are demonstrating Gijima’s ability to provide service-delivery excellence.

“The quality of clients that Gijima has – including 14 of the top 25 JSE-listed companies – is evidence that Gijima remains a relevant and key player in the ICT industry in Southern Africa,” she said.

The company’s efficiency drive resulted in targeted savings of approximately R200 million per annum, without exceeding the industry norms in terms of staff turnover. Overhead support-structure cost savings, together with a focus on delivery efficiency, delivered significant and sustainable savings.

Lower finance charges were incurred for the period due to debenture redemptions of R 45 million in December 2012 together with higher interest rates on cash balances. Further debenture redemptions of R 24 million were made in August and November 2013.

Currency translation differences from the unwinding of foreign operations resulted in the reduction of the effective tax credit to 10%.

The reduction of the cash balances at 31 December 2013 to R124 million, from R199 million at 30 June 2013, were partly as a result of senior debenture repayments of R24 million.

The Systems Engineering division houses the company’s various project environments, including custom and packaged application solutions, as well as infrastructure projects.

The division experienced a disappointing six months, ending the period 38% down on revenue compared to December 2012. The division’s earnings before interest and tax improved by R100 million compared to the previous period, but still incurred a R30 million loss, mainly as a result of reduced revenues.

The Services division is responsible for the outsourcing and applications support businesses which include field operations for end-user computing, an integrated services centre and support and maintenance of business’ applications. Revenue for the division was 13% lower than the comparative period, predominantly as a result of the full effect of the expiry of two major contracts during the second half of 2012. Profit however doubled, to R17 million, as a result of efficiency programmes taking hold.

The Specialised Solutions division, including the training and placement business, voice business (with Gijima partner NEC) and the Namibian operation, disclosed performance levels below expectations. Revenue was down 24% compared to December 2012. The training and placement business as well as the voice business reported an improved revenue performance, although margins came under pressure in both areas. Our Namibian operation disappointed, falling short of budget and the previous year’s performance for both revenue and profitability due to potential legislative changes.

The targeted 70:30 split of business between Private and Public Sector remains a key objective. The Public Sector business remained at 35% for the period ended 31 December 2013.

The management and board have, since June 2012, been involved in constantly improving the company. The board committed then to ensuring timeous filling of critical positions, and on 10th October 2013 announced the permanent appointment of the acting CEO, Eileen Wilton, as well as the appointment of Ernst Röth as the permanent CFO, with effect from 1st April 2014.

Announcements will be made in the near future regarding the Chief Sales Officer, who joins Gijima on 1st May 2014. Further critical appointments at the Operating Committee (Opco) level are in place. This is confirmation of Gijima’s commitment to inject new leadership into the business and to structure it for growth and profitability, said Wilton.

“Strategic decisions taken in 2013 now show the company is forging its way back on track as it continues to build on its service delivery excellence. New markets are being explored, specifically in Africa and among state-owned entities, and these efforts are beginning to show traction.

“The turnaround strategy is therefore showing significant progress in terms of cost reduction and a return to profitability,” Wilton said.

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