Automation to drive creativity and collaboration in the office of the future

Automation to drive creativity and collaboration in the office of the future

Fundisiwe Maseko
June 05, 2018

Over the past decade, the office environment has evolved with rapid advancements in automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and voice activation which are all set to play a bigger role in future ways of working.  “How we interface with devices in the office has evolved dramatically. With voice-activated technology rapidly making strides, we will likely evolve from manual to voice interaction with office devices in the near future. We are already seeing evidence of this with the likes of Amazon launching Alexa for Business. Connected devices are also becoming more ubiquitous in office processes such as monitoring office supplies and self-reporting technical errors,” says Lee-Anne Letcher, product manager at Canon SA.

As IoT devices become more commonplace, they may begin to be used more widely for staff wellbeing. For instance, in forward-thinking organizations, connected workplace solutions are being adopted to optimise the environment for employees, with connected heating systems responding to changing weather conditions and smart desks which warn users if they have been sitting too long.  Citing from research by the World Economic Forum, Letcher says creativity will be one of the most in-demand workplace skills by 2020 and many roles that were formerly purely technical, are expected to begin demanding it.

“Automation is one of the major drivers behind this change. In the next few years we can expect to see automation and augmented robotics being used more consistently in the workplace, largely to remove the mundane, repetitive jobs that sap time and inspiration. This will leave the workforce free to focus on uniquely ‘human’ tasks such as creativity and logical reasoning, rapidly creating a demand for these skills.”  For the last decade businesses have been focusing on supporting mobile and remote working, aiming to free employees from their desks and enable them to work however and wherever they want. However, as the debate continues over the productivity of remote workers, this vision for the future of work is undergoing rapid changes and creativity is becoming the new priority.

Remote working means employees are working independently and missing out on the collaborative work environment thought to encourage creativity. InfoTrends’ 2018 report notes that some businesses, like IBM, have actually begun to scale back their remote working programmes, in order to focus on creativity and drive workers towards an environment that supports this.  The ways in which people communicate within the workplace are also changing dramatically. With Cisco Systems Spark, Facebook’s Workplace, Flock, Slack, and Microsoft Teams all rising in popularity over the last couple of years, communication and collaboration at work is becoming more real-time.

Communication is entering a new stage, referred to as ‘conversational interface’ where employees will do most of their work from inside a chat app, rather than switching between different apps for different functions. This better supports an increasingly real-time ‘always on’ culture, where email is no longer suitable; collaboration is far more effective when response time is more immediate.

“With plenty of buzz about connectivity, creativity and collaboration, it’s easy for business leaders to get caught up with intangible concepts. There’s a perception that challenges around these factors are unresolvable issues. But that’s not true. Businesses should start by quantifying their goals, and by seeking expert advice on what processes will create value. Only by doing this can they build a smart office for the future, which delivers a robust return on investment and improves the working lives of employees and decision-makers alike,” concludes Letcher.

IT News Africa

Cybercrime To Be Most Disruptive In The Next 2 Years- PwC Study

Cybercrime To Be Most Disruptive In The Next 2 Years- PwC Study

By Fundisiwe Maseko
May 15, 2018

A study conducted by PwC has revealed that a quarter of South African businesses believe that cybercrime will be the most disruptive economic crime to affect their organisations in the next two years. The 2018 PwC Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey found that South Africa has the dubious honour of having the highest level of reported economic crime in the world, with a staggering 77% of companies being affected.  Junaid Amra, Partner in PwC’s Forensic Services Division, says that when it comes to combating fraud and economic crime, technology can become a double-edged sword. “In the never-ending efforts to modernise both the business and the fraud-detecting capabilities of the business, technology can become a business protector, but also a threat if the risks associated with technology deployment are not properly assessed,” he says.

He points out a key finding in the global survey which says technology has become so pervasive across every business process that how a company chooses to leverage this technology to combat crime is central to the customer experience. Amra further stated, “Over a fifth of all customers said business technology to predict fraud was producing too many false positives and these false alarms become invasive for the customer.”  The survey found that companies are finding it increasingly expensive to invest in technology. “This being said, South Africa, and Africa in general, are investing in advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence at a faster rate than the rest of the world. This may be to play catch-up with the rest of the world in efforts to combat economic crime, but it also signals the seriousness with which cybercrime is being approached.”

In addition to the customer experience being directly affected by the use of technology, criminals can and do use the company’s own technology to commit their crimes.  With new digital products, criminals are given new attack vectors, making the job of stopping these attacks so much harder. “In the past, companies may well have used good old-fashioned business-to-business processes to bring a product to market – resellers, distributors and retailers. However, technology has meant that there are innovative business-to-consumer platforms providing a wider attack surface for cybercriminals,” explains Amra.

In 2017, a single ransomware attack crippled the United Kingdom’s National Health Service, not only threatening lives, but also crippling hundreds of thousands of computers around the world. This is just one example from many that can be cited. The potential for harm is frightening as the technical sophistication of external fraudsters and attack surfaces within businesses continue to grow side by side.  It is for this reason, says Amra, that more than a quarter of respondents to the survey felt that cybercriminals would attack them in the next two years.

Amra concludes that the survey found that the responsibility of dealing with economic crime rests with the C-suite. Based on incidents we’ve assisted clients with organisations are falling into two categories, those who have executive-led initiatives and those who are crisis-driven i.e. moving from one crisis to the next without a clear cybersecurity strategy supported by the C-suite. It goes without saying that organisations with executive-led initiatives are faring much better when faced with cyber attacks. From a steering, strategic and reputational point of view, business leaders such as the CEO are finding that the buck stops with them in the fight against cybercriminals.

Distributed By APO Group

Spokesperson Clayton M. Mccleskey On Food For Peace and Power Africa

Spokesperson Clayton M. Mccleskey On Food For Peace and Power Africa

Statement by Spokesperson Clayton M. Mccleskey on Food for Peace and Power Africa as Finalists for Service to America Medals
WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America
May 9, 2018

I join my U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) colleagues in congratulating the Office of Food for Peace and the USAID-led Power Africa initiative, both of which are finalists for the 2018 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal.  These medals recognize an enduring commitment to breaking down barriers, overcoming obstacles, and achieving results.
In 2017, conflict and drought in South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen left millions at risk of severe hunger or starvation. Led by Acting Director Matt Nims, Food for Peace responded to reach 20 million people with life-saving food as famine loomed.  Initiatives such as Power Africa help build resilience against future crises by harnessing the capabilities of the private sector and the development community to bring electricity to communities in Sub-Saharan Africa.  The initiative, led by Coordinator Andrew M. Herscowitz, has advanced 90 electric-power projects worth more than $14 billion, slated to produce 7,500 megawatts of electricity.
Distributed by APO Group

African Businesses Increase Cloud Budgets To Scale Operations

African Businesses Increase Cloud Budgets To Scale Operations

Distributed by Muslim Community Report on behalf of Sub-Saharan Africa at F5 Networks.

By Matthew Barker, Divisional Sales Manager,  Sub-Saharan Africa at F5 Networks
May 05/03/2018

Cloud computing is reaching ubiquitous adoption among enterprises in Africa. Shrinking IT budgets and increasing pressure to ‘do more with less’ is making cloud computing an attractive option for businesses that want to scale their operations and digitally transform their infrastructure. As the cloud is more affordable and accessible than ever before, a bigger portion of African IT budgets is being allocated to cloud computing spend.

This was one of the key findings of Cloud Africa 2018, a research project conducted by World Wide Worx and F5 Networks, across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa earlier this year, where we asked decision-makers at 300 medium and large organisations about their cloud computing usage, benefits, and intentions.

Budgets Aim For The Sky

  • These were the biggest take-outs from the research when it came to cloud budgets:
  • Nine out of ten (90%) companies in South Africa increased spending on cloud computing last year, and 83% will increase these budgets in 2018.
  • In Nigeria, 78% increased budgets last year, and 94% will increase their spending this year.
  • In Kenya, 74% of companies increased cloud budgets in 2017, rising to a massive 98% in 2018.
  • Not more than 2% of organisations in any of the countries surveyed decreased cloud spending last year.
  • Only 5% of South African respondents said they would decrease cloud spending this year, the majority of which were in the engineering sector. No companies in Kenya or Nigeria will decrease spending this year.

These spending trends are in line with global forecasts from the IDC, which expects spending on public cloud to increase from $67 billion in 2015 to $162 billion in 2020. Worldwide, cloud computing spending has grown at 4.5 times the rate of IT spending since 2009 and is expected to grow at more than six times the rate of IT spending from 2015 through 2020.

Hard-To-Ignore Benefits

The Cloud Africa 2018 research found that one of the biggest reasons for the increased spend on cloud computing is that African organisations are starting to realise the benefits and impact of cloud computing on everything from business innovation and market share, to customer experiences and brand perception.

Organisations are also starting to understand the value of cloud computing in enabling more complex business models and orchestrating better integration and collaboration across their infrastructure deployments. Higher levels of trust in cloud computing means organisations are more comfortable virtualising mission-critical business processes and applications.

This has seen many businesses in Africa – which are not as hampered by legacy infrastructure investments as their counterparts in developed markets – pursue a cloud-first strategy as they prioritise increased automation and management of cloud services without vendor lock-in.

Apps Become Cloud-Native

Another trend fuelling growth in cloud computing is the migration of applications and workloads from on-premises data centres to the cloud, as well as the development of cloud-ready and cloud-native applications. This leaves African organisations with little choice but to invest in cloud computing if they want to remain relevant and make use of new digital technologies.

Our research found that organisations in South Africa and Kenya expect 26% to 50% of applications to be cloud-native by 2021, from around 1% to 25% today. In Nigeria, half of the respondents estimate that over three-quarters of applications will be cloud-native by 2021.

Along with the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing, cloud computing is still making the biggest and most measurable impact on businesses all over the world. With the continued roll-out and investment in supporting infrastructure – like fibre connectivity – organisations in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are not only unlocking access to global markets and innovation through the cloud but are also well-positioned to tap into the growing demand for outsourced cloud services from businesses that want the advantages of scalability and flexibility without the massive upfront investment.

Department of State Participation in Flintlock 2018

Department of State Participation in Flintlock 2018

WASHINGTON D.C., United States of America, April 9, 2018/ — The Department of State is pleased to once again participate in Flintlock, U.S. Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) annual and largest Special Operations Forces exercise. Flintlock exercises have taken place regularly since 2005 with partner nations from the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) and are planned by African partner nation special operations forces; Special Operations Command, Africa (SOCAFRICA); and the U.S. Department of State. Approximately 1,900 service members from 20 African and Western partner nations will participate in Flintlock at multiple locations in Niger, Burkina Faso, and Senegal from April 9-20, 2018.

The largest civilian component to Flintlock 2018 is the law enforcement training and equipment provided under the Department of State’s Antiterrorism Assistance (ATA) program. Through a partnership with the ATA program, this year’s exercise marks the most thorough integration of civilian equities into Flintlock yet. The law enforcement component will build upon the cross-border counterterrorism communication, coordination, and response at the strategic, operational, and tactical levels between military and civilian law enforcement to counter terrorist threats and attacks.

In general, the law enforcement integration into Flintlock provides a series of training sessions focusing on tactical rural patrol and crisis response capabilities, counterterrorism investigations, command and communication management, post blast and crime scene investigations, community engagement, and human rights. The State Department will also integrate rule of law engagement and humanitarian border management training into components of the exercise.

The State Department is proud to be part of this exercise and values this opportunity for information sharing and integration of civilian law enforcement with the military to increase security sector and multinational interoperability and cooperation in the fight against terrorism and terrorist organizations.

Participating African nations include Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, and Senegal. Western partners include Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.