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Avaya, iSON Technologies Partner on Digital Transformation across Africa

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Avaya, a global leader in business communications software, systems and services, and iSON Technologies, one of Africa’s largest ICT services companies, announced that they are working closely on key strategic accounts across Africa to help customers achieve their digital transformation objectives.

Enterprises in Africa are looking at digitization strategies to drive operational excellence, improve customer satisfaction and expand to play a greater part in the global economy. Avaya and iSON Technologies are now working together in 16 countries across the continent, the two companies said today, helping to transform the customer experience in a range of industries, including telecoms, banking and financial services.

Avaya’s client-tailored and result-oriented digital & smart services elevate organizations of every scale, accelerating their digital growth journeys with vertical, industry-focused solutions and services. Avaya is the only company today that specializes in complex business communications – internal for companies’ teams and external for their customers – based on open, mobile software platforms, with the network infrastructure to meet customers’ underlying needs.

iSON Technologies is one of Avaya’s most valued partners in the  African region, a winner of the “Strategic Win of the Year Award” at the Avaya Partner Forum event in 2015,recipient of the  Avaya Contact Center Partner of the year in 2013 and an Avaya Platinum Partner, the highest level. iSON has won multiple awards for its work with Avaya, having successfully delivered customer experience transformation in key industry verticals in Africa, including with one of the world’s leading international banking groups.

“Avaya’s successful transformation into a customer-centric company focuses on software and services, and the strength of its solutions fit well with ISON’s strategy of customer experience management. Today, iSON and Avaya are providing contact center solutions to some of the largest mobile communications companies in the world. We have deployed Avaya Aura Unified Communications and Contact Centre solutions to the company’s operations in several countries, giving Avaya and iSON a presence in all the leading service providers in Africa,” stated Jitendra Israni, Chief Executive Officer, iSON Technologies.

“As African nations and businesses look to expand and grow their economies, Avaya, together with ISON Technolgies, is helping organisations across the continent to progress on their digital transformation journeys. With Avaya able to deliver a complete solution for the customer experience, including voice and data and offering stable, reliable solutions, we are keen to extend the partnership with ISON Technologies further,” said Danny Drew, Managing Director, South Africa, Avaya.

New Software Stops Ransomware
Scientists at the University of Florida (UF) say they have developed software that can stop the growing problem of ransomware in its tracks.

Ransomware encrypts computer files and is used by hackers who then demand money in exchange for freeing the content.

It is becoming a huge problem globally.

The solution – dubbed CryptoDrop – detected the malware and stopped it after it had encrypted just a handful of files, said its developers.

Patrick Traynor, an associate professor in UF’s department of computer and information science, worked with PhD student Nolen Scaife and Henry Carter, from Villanova University, on the software.

“Our system is more of an early-warning system,” Mr Scaife said.

“It doesn’t prevent the ransomware from starting… it prevents the ransomware from completing its task… so you lose only a couple of pictures or a couple of documents rather than everything that’s on your hard drive, and it relieves you of the burden of having to pay the ransom.”

In tests, CryptoDrop had spotted 100% of malware samples and stopped it after an average of 10 files had been encrypted, researchers said.

In May, the FBI issued a warning saying that the number of ransomware attacks had doubled in the past year and was expected to grow even more rapidly this year.

It said that it had received more than 2,400 complaints last year and estimated losses from such attacks at $24m (£18m) for individuals and businesses.

Governments, large companies, banks, hospitals and educational institutions are all among the victims of such attacks.

Richard Cassidy, an expert at security firm Alert Logic said of CryptoDrop: “Whilst the step taken by researchers at the University of Florida are indeed a novel way in which to detect and contain ransomware, it doesn’t serve as the ‘silver bullet’ for ransomware as a whole.”

“There are new variants being written all the time and ransomware writers will indeed take the time to dissect and understand how this new technology operates, creating versions that will attempt to either bypass detection, or at the very least search more effectively for likely sensitive files, before encrypting them, with the hope of having the biggest impact of securing a ransom payment.”

The team at UF currently has a prototype that works with Windows-based systems.

It is seeking a commercial partner for the software, having recently presented its paper on the technology at a conference in Japan.

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world.

So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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Virtual ‘Hawkers’ Will Soon Send Conventional Shop Owners Packing

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By Ugwoke Udoka

Stagnancy, well, describes the activities of some shop owners. Moving around in circles and not responsive to the advancement of technology and application of these reforms to their business activities would only mean doom. Hawkers, in this context, virtual are prone to limitless success.

Gone are the days when people scramble to site their shops in the best locations or save up a lot of cash to acquire capital to buy land space and erect structures or even pay a lot of rental fee for shops. People no longer want to go through the stress of paying transportation fares to visit shops, neither do they want to waste too much time walking from department to department in a mall, when a couple of clicks from the comfort of their homes could give them the same desired result and even more. Obviously, rising technology brings a rise in customer’s taste.

Apart from fierce competition coming from mall, honestly, statistics do not favour bricks and mortars shop owners.  A report by BigCommerce.com on ‘Customer location at time of purchase’, shows a quarter of online shoppers (25%) have made an online purchase from a brick-and-mortar store; 43% of online shoppers have made a purchase while in bed; Millennials and Gen Xers are nearly 3x as likely as Baby Boomers and Seniors to have made an online purchase from bed (59% v 21%); 23% of online shoppers have made an online purchase at the office and nearly 3 in 10 (29%) of Millennials and Gen Xers have made a purchase from the office.

The report continued: more than 15% of Baby Boomers and Seniors have made a purchase from the office; 20% of American online shoppers have purchased from the bathroom or while in the car (a +1 for mobile commerce); millennials and Gen Xers are 5x more likely to have made an online purchase from the bathroom (31% v. 6%) than Baby Boomers and Seniors; one in ten customers admitted to buying something online after drinking alcohol; men are more than twice as likely as women to have made a purchase after consuming alcohol (14% to 6%); younger generations are 5x more likely to drink and shop than their older counterparts (15% to 3%) and parents are twice as likely as non-parents to have made an online purchase after drinking (15% v 7%).

As e-commerce platforms in Nigeria move towards maturity, shop owners found in their numerous numbers in Onitsha Main Market, Anambra; Alaba International Market, Lagos state; Ogbette Main Market, Enugu State; Ariaria Market, Abia State; Kurmi Market, Kano State and so many others across Nigeria, should start rethinking.

These e-commerce platforms or the ‘virtual hawkers’ including Jumia, Konga, JiJi, Uber and every other who without shop spaces, uses the digital marketing techniques (technology) to capture the attention of their target audience and deliver quality products and services to them, will eventually send them (shop owners) parking.

Trust me, every business is out to make profit.  As an accountant, I know that profits are made when you reduce the cost of production or increase price. The latter is usually the better option as the former scares the customers to the ever wide-open hands of the competitors.

An article published on THISDAY Newspapers on the 28th August, 2017 by Eromosele Abiodun stated that Nigeria’s E-commerce Market Value would hit #15.5 trillion in ten years, though its current worth is #4.01 trillion. Apparently, the current worth of virtual hawking would triple in the next ten years. Tell me, where would all the shops get their own profit from? Where would all the wealth go?

Who would you think stands a better chance of amassing more customers? A shop owner who spends a lot on land space, electricity bills, adverts and other promotion strategies or a virtual hawker who almost incurs none of these costs? Have you wondered why a lot of shops and malls including Shoprite and SPAR are adopting the technology mode of attracting and retaining customers? They are beginning to take a cue from virtual hawkers and promoting programmes and packages that would not require their malls to be visited by the customer. Looking at the transportation industry, clients no longer have to wait at car parks to get to their destination.

With technology, they get the virtual hawker come pick them at wherever location and take them to their destination at almost the same or a lesser amount than the car owners parks. Transport companies like Peace Mass Transit and God is Good Motors have packages like the online booking system which allows travelers to peruse dates and book tickets with a  couple of clicks. Potentially, this will replace the conventional means of going to the counter to buy tickets and having to struggle with your luggage past the flood of travelers.

Shop owners will continually pay cut-throat taxes to government officials. This has a lot of negative effect on the profitability of the business. Whereas, virtual hawkers do not actually pay as much taxes! Instead they re-invest their profit devoid of tax and continue building their riches while shop owners are muddled up in their mediocrity. Tell me, which would you prefer?

Salvaging this ugly situation lies with the development of applications tailored towards assisting shop owners go online. ICT Editor, Peter Oluka, advises that banks and other financial institutions have key roles to play; especially to encourage more financial inclusion, because it will enhance trust. “If you trust to buy online, potentially you are an online merchant”, Peter adds.

Unfortunately, ignorance is the greatest problem of majority of these bricks and mortars shop owners, and of course it’s not an excuse. There is need for continuous education and sensitization.

In my previous article on ‘the need to ignite technology consciousness in women and girls in the South East’ , I pointed that many females in the stated region are ignorant and continuous education is key; likewise, many shop owners need digital literacy to embrace e-commerce.

 

Ugwoke Peace Udoka, ACA, MNIMN, BSc (Marketing) University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, 2016. She can be reached via: ugwokepeace@gmail.com

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Gartner Says Worldwide PC Shipments Declined 2% in 4Q17

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Worldwide PC shipments totaled 71.6 million units in the fourth quarter of 2017, a 2 percent decline from the fourth quarter of 2016, according to preliminary results by Gartner, Inc. For the year, 2017 PC shipments surpassed 262.5 million units, a 2.8 percent decline from 2016. It was the 13th consecutive quarter of declining global PC shipments, as well as the sixth year of annual declines. However, Gartner analysts said there were some signs for optimism.

“In the fourth quarter of 2017, there was PC shipment growth in Asia/Pacific, Japan and Latin America. There was only a moderate shipment decline in EMEA,” said Mikako Kitagawa, principal analyst at Gartner. “However, the U.S. market saw a steep decline, which offset the generally positive results in other regions.

“The fourth quarter results confirmed again that PCs are no longer popular holiday gift items. This does not mean that PCs will disappear from households,” Kitagawa said. “Rather, the PC will become a more specialized, purpose-driven device. PC buyers will look for quality and functionality rather than looking for the lowest price, which will increase PC average selling prices (ASPs) and improve profitability in the long run. However, until this point is reached, the market will have to go through the shrinking phase caused by fewer PC users.”

HP Inc. moved into the No. 1 position in the fourth quarter of 2017, as its shipments grew 6.6 percent, and its market share totaled 22.5 percent. The company showed year-over-year growth in all regions, including the challenging U.S. market. For the fourth consecutive quarter, Lenovo experienced a decline in shipments. Lenovo had moderate growth in EMEA and Asia/Pacific, but shipments declined in North America.

Dell’s shipments grew slightly in the fourth quarter of 2017. Dell did well in EMEA, Asia/Pacific and Latin America, but it had weak results in North America. Generally, Dell has put a higher priority on profitability over market share.

PC Market Consolidation in 2017

For the year, worldwide PC shipments totaled 262.5 million units in 2017, a 2.8 percent decrease from 2016. As the PC industry continues to consolidate, the top four vendors in 2017 accounted for 64 percent of global PC shipments. In 2011, the top four vendors accounted for 45 percent of PC shipments.

“The top vendors have taken advantage of their volume operations to lower production costs, pushing small to midsize vendors out of the market,” Kitagawa said.

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E-conext Identifies 10 Top Online Courses for Future Jobs

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The ever-evolving job place, with growing access to the internet has driven E-conext to take a critical look at the nature of work, employment search and online education. The e-learning platform www.e-conext.com recently identified online courses which will help develop new skill sets and alleviate poverty with global opportunities to work from home in companies like Facebook, Amazon in Europe and America while in Nigeria.

Online learning is a form of distance education that uses the internet to promote interaction between students and content, teachers, and other students. E-conext provides top courses ranging from content writing to digital marketing, emotional intelligence, programming, data entry, software development, supply chain, networking and internet security, customer relationship management and safety health.

During an interactive session, Kennedy Ugege, Principal Consultant of Jungu Media and E-conext partner in Nigeria, sheds more light on different courses which are delivered via blogs, podcast, webinars, online chats, discussion boards and virtual study jams:

– Content writing involves producing documents that are suited to the requirements, comprehension level, and background of its readers. The course trains participants how to avoid common writing pitfalls, and structure your writing effectively.

– Digital Marketing provides goals and methods so you can plan the best strategy and mix for different organizations. It surveys a variety of methods and tools for reaching customers at every stage of their decision-making process, with a focus on social media marketing.

– Emotional Intelligence explores the power of emotions and the concept of emotional intelligence via discussions of competencies in the areas of self-awareness, self-management, empathy, and relationship management.

– Programming on various levels of Java Programming for beginners, intermediate and advanced participants. The course is just as helpful for a beginner as it is for systems engineers, web application developers, mobile app developers, software engineers and other potential student with a technical background.

– Data Entry basically teaches the act of entering information into electronic formats by using word processing or data processing software.

– Software Development looks at the common set of methodologies used when creating programs with a variety of programming languages. Here you will explore how to create programs, what decision structures are, and identify the basics of object-oriented programming.

–  Supply Chain demonstrates to consumers the suppliers and sub-contractors that companies engage vis-à-vis favorable human rights practices. The course also sheds more light on corporate social responsibility in this context, confronting exploitation in labor and supply chains against human trafficking activities.

– Networking and Internet Security is the concept of network architecture bringing together network devices, services, models, cabling, topologies and the different WAN technologies to configure network services such as DHCP and DNS.

– Customer Relationship Management helps professional workers find better ways to manage and grow their business while training others to effectively utilize the features of a Free CRM software.

– Health & Safety provides an in depth guide to the responsibilities of employers and employees at work and everyone in the workplace.

The E-conext platform parades a diverse and multinational team of experts across the globe with the central hub in Zurich, Switzerland. The online platform has a software group with over 20 years of industry experience and a client base spanning more than 10 countries on a month-by-month increase.

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