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.

Dell Eliminates Price Barriers with New Entry-Level Mobile Workstation with ISV-Certified Performance

By admin, 1 kwietnia, 2014, No Comment
  • Dell removes cost-barriers for workstation-class performance and mission-critical reliability so more designers, engineers, artists and students can run their software to its full potential    
  • Dell Precision M2800 provides professional graphics and quad-core processors optimised and certified for professional software applications 

Dell has introduced a new mobile workstation category with the Dell Precision M2800, a 15-inch mobile workstation offering ISV-certified and optimised performance and dependability at a breakthrough price. With the lowest price available for 15-inch mobile workstation, the Dell Precision M2800 helps to bridge the gap between business-class laptops and mobile workstations by offering an affordable ISV-certified system with professional graphics and processors. Engineers, designers and video editors now have access to the right tool to perform their critical functions with the speed, accuracy and reliability of a Dell Precision workstation.

“Dell has found a way to disrupt the market and remove barriers for a certain set of customers who require a workstation experience yet are constrained by budget,” said Jon Peddie, president, Jon Peddie Research. “The M2800 brings forth a tremendous opportunity to address a gap in delivering an entry-level workstation with strong performance and ISV certifications to run demanding, mission-critical applications, at a great value.”

Offering workstation-class performance in a mobile form factor, the Dell Precision M2800 can be configured with fourth-generation Intel Core i5 and i7 processors, AMD FirePro W4170M graphics with 2GB of dedicated GDDR5 video memory, up to 16GB of system memory and up to 1TB of storage to run graphic and data intensive workloads seamlessly in the office or with clients on-site. Delivering amazing clarity for detailed work, the Dell Precision M2800 comes with a 15.6-inch UltraSharp display available in HD or FHD (1920 x 1080), external multi-monitor support and docking compatibility to simplify the transition from the road to a desk-based workspace.

To maximise performance of CAD, digital content creation and editing software, the M2800 will be ISV-certified for leading applications such as Autodesk AutoCAD, Inventor and Revit, Dassault Systèmes Solidworks, PTC Creo, among others. In addition, the M2800 comes with Dell Precision Performance Optimiser (DPPO) which automatically adjusts system settings for optimising specific applications.

“Prior to the Dell Precision M2800 many AutoCAD users were running their software on a non-professional workstation due to budgetary constraints,” said Amy Bunszel, vice president of AutoCAD products, Autodesk. “Now our customers will be able to upgrade to a workstation-class system that has been tested, optimised and certified for AutoCAD, increasing performance for minimal cost.”

The M2800 will be available to customers and channel partners worldwide in April. For additional product details, visit www.dell.co.za.

“Many designers and engineers are not realising the full potential of their professional software because they are using a business or consumer-class PC instead of a workstation,” said Boitumelo Kgonare, Client Product Marketing Manager at Dell South Africa. “We are filling that gap by introducing a new mobile workstation at a price that lets more professionals and students maximise their software while on the go. This is the right tool to help more people design and deliver innovations faster – no matter where they are.”

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.”

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.

 

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.

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.”

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.

 

London calling for South Africa’s Stanchion Payment Solutions

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

In a further move to fulfil international demand for its products and services, South African payment solutions provider Stanchion Payment Solutions (www.stanchionpayments.com) has opened a European regional office based in London. The company’s entry into the European financial services technology sector follows a year after the opening of a Middle East and North Africa regional office, based out of Dubai, in March 2013.

Stanchion is a specialist company trusted to implement, manage and enhance payment systems and solutions in complex environments for banks, retailers, payment processors and payment system vendors.

Stanchion CEO Graham Williams says the latest development is a milestone in exporting proven South African payments technology and services globally. “This new office heralds Stanchion’s arrival in Europe, where research has shown there to be many viable markets and demand for our payments software, services, and solutions. Our operations now span the full extent of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).”

Heading the European office is Charlie McIver, who brings 15 years of payments industry experience to Stanchion, including a decade at S1 Corporation (since acquired by ACI) where he served as Vice President for Operations, initially for Europe and the Middle East, and subsequently for North America.

“These are exciting times for Stanchion, which offers a proven track record for trustworthy payment products, solutions and professional services, at a highly competitive cost thanks to the capability of the development team located in South Africa,” McIver says. “I’m very excited to join a great team and excited by the opportunity and challenge for Stanchion in Europe,” he adds.

McIver notes an abundance of opportunity not only in the UK, but right across Europe: “European bank processors and retailers are currently experiencing a period of significant disruption thanks to the introduction of new technology platforms, a high level of M&A activity and continued regulation. We are also seeing increased cross-border and systems consolidation programs which drive interesting technology project opportunities for us.”

The UK is a strong market for payments technology providers, but McIver also cites major opportunities in Germany, France, the Netherlands and Poland, all of which can be effectively served from Stanchion’s new London based office. “Our approach is to form long term strategic partnerships with our payments processing customers. We look to help them improve efficiency in current operations, to develop innovative strategies, introduce new ideas and technologies, as well providing them with highly capable outsourced skills to deliver these initiatives. Stanchion’s balance of local and South African based expertise is a proven and cost-effective model, and with a track record of over a decade, Stanchion clients know they are in good hands. I think customers will welcome our refreshing approach!”

McIver also hints at future expansion in North America: “The London office also allows Stanchion to position itself deftly in response to increasing demand we are seeing from US & Canadian customers. We’ll be watching this market to see when a US presence makes sense.”

IBM Supports Economic Growth Opportunities in South Africa

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

Durban is one of 3 cities picked in Africa for IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge Grant

Durban has been awarded an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grant, valued at USD $500,000 is to fund consultations with IBM experts and senior consultants. The IBM consultants will work with the city leadership to develop a skills development roadmap aligned to eThekwini’s economic development and job creation plan.

“The eThekwini Municipality is looking forward to working with the team of Executives from IBM, exploring ways to improve the city’s skills base and increase economic opportunities in the city.” says eThekwini Municipality Mayor Nxumalo.

Durban is one of only three African cities to receive this grant and one of only 16 cities around the world to qualify and receive the highly prized three-week engagement. Nxumalo said eThekwini municipal-ity would focus its efforts on boosting economic development.

For this consultative engagement, the IBM team will invest months studying aspects of and best case practice of skills development and economic development. Then they will spend three weeks on the ground in the region gathering and analysing all relevant data, while meeting in person with dozens of members of the government, citizen, business, and not-for-profit communities. In doing so, they gather diverse perspectives about the causes and potential solutions to the challenge facing the eThekwini Municipality leadership. At the conclusion of these studies, IBM presents comprehensive recommendations for solving the problem, followed weeks later by a more detailed, written plan for its implementation.

The team, who will arrive in South Africa later this year, will comprise of IBMers who hail from all over the world, and who offer diverse perspectives and skills. The team typically will include skills across in the areas of marketing, communications, technology, research and development, government, human resources, finance, business, legal matters and specific disciplines such as transportation, energy and health.

“This is a significant investment to support the City in its aspirations to be a Smart City. We believe that by providing critical thinking and solutions beyond technology we can support the development goals particularly around economic development and poverty alleviation.” said Abraham Thomas, Country General Manager of IBM South Africa. “The efforts of our international colleagues will also compliment the Smarter Cities work we currently have underway with several cities and metros in South Africa.

Smarter Cities Challenge was originally conceived in 2011 as a three-year grant program, but highly positive feedback and effective results have encouraged IBM to extend the initiative. In its first three years, IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge deployed 600 experts on six-person teams who provided strategic and practical advice to 100 municipalities.

Previous grant recipients have implemented IBM’s Smarter Cities Challenge recommendations and tangibly improved the lives of their citizens including Townsville, Australia which is reducing its water and energy costs. Its efforts have earned it that country’s prestigious National Smart Infrastructure Award. And the City of Tshwane used its grant to understand how it could reduce non-revenue water by as much as 25%

Smarter Cities Challenge grants have been awarded to 116 cities out 500 applicants over the last three years. Successful applications propose projects designed to address high priority problems of critical importance to citizens. The city or region must be able to share detailed information to help the IBM team analyze the issue. Leaders must also guarantee face-to-face access to city, regional, civic and business stakeholders for interviews with IBM team members so that they may comprehensively assess a given problem and recommend solutions.

Other cities and regions that have been awarded the IBM Smarter Cities Challenge grants for 2014 include Abuja, Nigeria: Ballarat, Australia: Baton Rouge, United States: Birmingham, United States ; Brussels, Belgium: Dallas, United States: Dublin, Ireland: Durban, Jinan, China: Mombasa County, Kenya; Niigata, Japan ; Perth, Australia; Suffolk County, United States; Tainan, Taiwan ; Vilnius, Lithuania and Zapopan, Mexico.

 

 

T-Systems restructures minority shareholding, appoints new board members as part of strategic transformation

By admin, 31 marca, 2014, No Comment

As part of its strategy of accelerated transformation and localisation, T-Systems in South Africa has announced the restructuring of its minority shareholding in line with the Codes of Good Practice. In addition, far-reaching changes to the Board will further drive transformation in line with the company’s aim of both internal and external nation building.

To enable inclusive minority shareholding, the company has re-purchased its 30% shareholding from the minority partners. African Renaissance Holdings (ARH) was the senior partner and had a long-standing and successful relationship with T-Systems South Africa since 2001. “We are grateful to ARH for their partnership on several areas of transformation and business development during this period and we are exploring alternative opportunities where the relationship will be different in future” says Gert Schoonbee, MD of T-Systems South Africa.

The 30% shareholding is now distributed through a more broad-based scheme to black employees and also to benefit communities. The scheme is performance based and reserves 10% for black females and 10% for black males. The 10% shareholding to the Community Trust is to ensure that some of the value added to T-Systems is always ploughed back to the community with a specific focus on education. Current education initiatives include the ICT Academy, the Hazyview Digital Learning Centre and the Internship Programme.

As part of the shareholder restructuring, the Board of T-Systems in South Africa has also been addressed to ensure alignment with the company’s transformation journey. Maphum Nxumalo and Gert Schoonbee have been appointed as Executive Directors, together with Khangekile Simelane as Independent Non-Executive Director, Mpho Letlape, Georg Heil and Mardia van der Walt-Korsten as Non-Executive Directors for a three-year term, effective from 1 February 2014.

As a South African-led and staffed company that forms part of a globally renowned IT services group, T-Systems in South Africa combines the ingenuity and commitment of local employees with the technology and international best practice of majority shareholder Deutsche Telekom. The company’s aim is to deliver “ICT that works”, both for customers and the country as a whole, and to achieve this, T-Systems launched a comprehensive nation building change programme to transform itself and the country for the better. The theme for 2014 is “Transformation through Innovation” and the aim is to build on this new platform that is created with new employee shareholding.

“Since our first investment into South Africa more than 16 years ago, we have re-invested 100% of our local profits into the country in line with our policy to grow the business. With the additional impetus of the new board members, we look forward to harnessing South African ingenuity and leveraging the technology, innovation and best practice of T-Systems and Deutsche Telekom to deliver services which grow public and private sector capacity,” says Schoonbee.

 

 

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