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Platform Economy Of The Future, Pathway To Drive Growth, Jobs Across Africa

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William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Accenture South Africa and Chairman of Accenture Africa

By William Mzimba

Many companies, whether they realize it or not, have already taken steps to embed themselves into the digital ecosystems that will drive their growth in future.

However, the pace of adopting new digital platforms for doing business needs to increase – especially in Africa. These platforms are business models that create value by facilitating exchanges between two or more interdependent groups, usually consumers and producers.

According to the Wall Street Journal platform companies are major drivers of innovation as the top companies set the standards for the digital transformation taking place around the world. Traditional companies are challenged to keep up or risk being left behind. As platforms become the new normal for how business is done, African companies must seize this opportunity to begin to build a new digital value chain.

Already, more than a quarter (27%) of the executives Accenture recently surveyed report that digital ecosystems are transforming the way their organizations deliver value. And we found that 81% of executives say platform-based business models will be core to their growth strategy within three years.

The mandate for leaders is to capitalize on new relationships, building a network of digital partners that will not only enhance their existing business, but also allow them to forge their way into newly emerging digital ecosystems.

What we are seeing is that entire ecosystems of customers are aggregating around several new digital platforms, and businesses are more motivated than ever before to take advantage of these entry points.

Communication platforms like WeChat and WhatsApp, and Artificial Intelligence intermediaries like the Google Assistant, Alexa, and Siri represent distinct ecosystems delivering unprecedented access to customers – and businesses are flocking to them.

A couple of examples include Hyatt Hotels, which uses Facebook Messenger to let guests do everything from booking and checking existing reservations to ordering room service during a stay, while Capital One bank developed a ‘skill’ for Amazon Echo’s Alexa, allowing people to check their accounts and pay credit card bills via the Echo device.

It is little surprise that the trend two of our Tech Vision 2017 study highlights that in the State of the Cloud survey 95% of respondents reported using public, private, or hybrid cloud technology, while the CIO Strategic Partner Index run by the IDC reports that 29% of IT leaders are spending more than half their IT budget on external providers. Each platform commitment means easier future engagement with other companies on the platform using the same infrastructure.

However, of the 176 platform companies included in a recent report, The Rise of the Platform Enterprise: A Global Survey led by Peter Evans and Annabelle Gawer and sponsored by the Center for Global Enterprise, Asia has the largest number with 82, 64 of which are in China. North America has 64, with 63 in the US.

Europe is a major consumer of platform services, but it’s home to relatively few platform companies –27 spread across 10 countries, 9 of which are in the UK.

It is concerning Africa and Latin America have a number of small platform companies, only 3 of which have met the $1 billion valuation threshold for inclusion in the survey.

More African companies need to decide which ecosystems to join and which roles to play as the technology changes are only the beginning.

How do African companies begin to close the gaps? An important way to get moving on this journey is to conduct an audit identifying how many internal and external platforms you are using and the goals for their use. Identify and address unnecessary overlaps.

Determine the platforms your organization most relies on, as well as those that most depend on you. These are the ecosystems where your organization should hold its strategic and market strengths.

Over the next 100 days, look to essentially develop a comprehensive strategy to establish the foundation for your platform business model and ecosystem.

During this phase you should appoint a C-suite sponsor to oversee a team that is responsible for championing your new ecosystem and digital partnership strategies.

Then ever the next year, leadership should have achieved comprehensive understanding of the new rules of business, developed a platform business model strategy, and started to test it with the launch of a small pilot program.

Companies should keep expanding the conversation: for instance, in the first 100 days have a strategy summit with your closest partners to understand their goals for the future. Uncover shared goals and commit to developing a strategic plan for achieving them together.

Consider your organization’s future through the lens of the biggest disruptions shaping your market, from inside and outside your industry.

Craft the ideal role of your company in this future, and develop a shortlist of partners who can help make it a reality. And remember to develop metrics to quantify the results of ecosystem participation.

Many global brands are already taking the bold steps needed. The digital ecosystem is, for instance, totally redefining what automakers do. Rather than just building cars, they’re engaging with customers throughout the vehicle lifecycle, directly managing software upgrades, diagnostics, and safety.

In the insurance industry, pulling down driving data from connected car platforms has enabled new services such as pay-per-mile insurance with newcomers like Google and Metromile to challenge the industry status quo. The opportunities are endless, no matter what industry you are in.

General Motors kicked off 2016 with a $500 million investment into ride-share platform Lyft. The move gave GM the inroads to launch their Express Drive service, an exclusive offering for successful, but car-less, Lyft driver applicants to rent a car directly from GM and get to work right away.

The program was remarkably successful in the short term, opening a new line of business for GM: by July, 30% of new Lyft drivers were requesting an Express Drive vehicle in their sign-up.

In addition to partnering with Lyft, GM also made a $1 billion-plus acquisition of the autonomous vehicle software company Cruise Automation, and another billion-dollar investment in building an autonomous vehicle testing facility in Detroit.

This shows how platforms are rapidly becoming the central hubs for the rich and complex digital ecosystems that companies want to access. Consider the fact that 70% of ’unicorn’ startups (over $1 billion!) are platform companies.

Other companies such as personal car-rental app Turo and group dining experience Feastly have introduced their own offerings, as have dozens of start-ups, each with their own angle and offering. LiquidSpace, which lists offerings in more than 500 cities across the US, Australia and Canada, offers a platform for renting workspaces and meeting rooms by the day or hour.

In South Africa, a good example of a company embracing the platform economy and reaping rewards is Discovery Vitality, while Discovery’s proposed bank is another example of the evolution of this concept into other exciting sectors.

The retail market for consumer goods in SA received a shot in the arm in 2015 when Kalahari was merged with Takealot, with the technology platform cleverly harnessed to drive growth since then.

Remember the sharing economy brings people together through technology to exchange or rent access to goods and services, so entrepreneurs are building this economy by leveraging emerging digital technologies to meet customer needs in new and disruptive ways.

Digital and mobile technologies have combined with public support to create a host of opportunities to transform the way government manages the infrastructure it has already acquired. For instance, through MuniRent, six local governments in Michigan are already renting equipment to and from each other.

How African companies and governments react to this change brought about the platform economy will define their prospects going forward.

The platforms they use will serve as the pathways to the new digital economies that will drive growth and jobs across the continent. They will form the pillars of entire value chains in the future and so African companies need to ensure they make these decisions wisely – and fast because there is no doubt that the digital partnerships African companies make today will determine how successful they will be tomorrow.

Platform economy is one of the topics to be discussed at the Accenture Innovation Conference taking place on 17 October in Johannesburg.

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Visa Launches ID Intelligence for Smarter Customer Authentication

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Visa has launched Visa ID Intelligence, a platform that lets issuers, acquirers and merchants quickly adopt emerging authentication technologies, according to a press release.

Available through Visa Developer Platform, Visa ID Intelligence offers a curated selection of third-party authentication technologies that feature simple integration with Visa APIs and SDKs. This allows clients to create, test and adopt new authentication solutions.

This ultimately helps financial institutions and merchants to adopt effective and secure solutions and accelerate time-to-market with streamlined on boarding and implementation through Visa as a single trusted source, the company said.

Visa ID Intelligence features include: Identity Documents— the platform evaluates identification documents and matches selfies to photo IDs, while extracting document information and converting it into digital form.

Uses include creating new accounts, and performing password reset and lost or stolen card replacement.

-Biometrics — Visa ID Intelligence allows clients to use eye, face, fingerprint and voice to meet consumer needs for convenience, security and speed in authentication.

Uses include app login, payments, step-up authentication, and more.

“Traditional methods for authenticating a customer can create frustration or are simply not designed for the new ways people are shopping and paying. We built Visa ID Intelligence to help accelerate smarter and easy-to-use authentication solutions for any commerce environment — to better protect against fraud and to move closer to a world without passwords,” Mark Nelson, Visa senior vice president of risk and authentication products, said in the release.

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ESET Works With Google To Protect Chrome Against Dangerous Malware

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By peter oluka

ESET, a leading global cybersecurity company, on Thursday launches Chrome Cleanup, a new scanner and cleaner for Google Chrome designed to help users browse the web safely and without interruption.

Chrome Cleanup will be available for all Google Chrome users running on Windows.

As cyber-attacks become more complex and difficult to spot, browsing the web can lead users to dangerous sites which can install malicious software onto devices.

Chrome Cleanup will alert Google Chrome users to potential threats when it detects unwanted software.

Google Chrome will then give users the option to remove the software. Chrome Cleanup operates in the background, without visibility or interruptions to the user. It deletes the software and notifies the user once the cleanup has been successfully completed.

“Using the internet should always be a smooth and safe experience for everyone,” said Juraj Malcho, chief technology officer at ESET. “For three decades, ESET has developed a number of security solutions that allow users to safely enjoy their technology and to mitigate a variety of cyber threats. Chrome Cleanup addresses unwanted software that can negatively influence a users’ experience on the internet.”

Chrome Cleanup is included in the latest version of Google Chrome. For more information about these tools, read Google’s blog post, here.

For 30 years, ESET® has been developing industry-leading IT security software and services for businesses and consumers worldwide.

With solutions ranging from endpoint and mobile security, to encryption and two-factor authentication, ESET’s high-performing, easy-to-use products give consumers and businesses the peace of mind to enjoy the full potential of their technology.

ESET unobtrusively protects and monitors 24/7, updating defenses in real-time to keep users safe and businesses running without interruption. Evolving threats require an evolving IT security company.

Backed by R&D centers worldwide, ESET becomes the first IT security company to earn 100 Virus Bulletin VB100awards, identifying every single “in-the-wild” malware without interruption since 2003.

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A Buyer’s Market in the Global Economics of DDoS Attacks

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It’s a buyer’s market in the local property arena at the moment, according to certain industry experts.

 

This is largely as a result of the slower economy, which has seen a rise in the number of properties for sale.

 

But did you know that globally, it’s a buyer’s market as well when we look at the economics of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks? The second, of course, is an underground market, largely regarded as a criminal one.

 

So said Bryan Hamman, Arbor Network’s territory manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Referring to recently released information from Arbor Networks, he said, “It is interesting to analyse the current economics in global DDoS attacks, which are attempts to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. Most people who are aware of DDoS attacks understand that there will be a perpetrator and a target.

 

“However, we’re now seeing a growing number of third-party providers of DDoS attacks as a service, who advertise their abilities online in order to either sell would-be attackers access to the tools needed to conduct a DDoS attack, or who perform the attack themselves on the customer’s behalf and provide reports afterwards.”

 

Hamman noted  that the fees of these underworld providers are lessening, due to rapidly expanding competition and the supply of readily available attack resources such as botnets. As a result, he says, the DDoS business is currently a buyer’s market.

 

Arbor reported that the prices for attack services, sometimes called “stressers” or “booters” vary widely, as do estimates of the total cost of an attack to the victim. But the economics are simple: DDoS attacks are becoming cheaper than ever for the perpetrator; are extremely lucrative for the attack service provider, and potentially financially devastating for the target.

 

Arbor noted that an increasing number of operators resemble legitimate service provider infrastructures with significant computing power, typically running their own botnet armies to unleash DDoS attacks. Perpetrators can essentially rent the providers’ botnets by the hour, day or week, or in some cases can buy a specific number of bots outright. The mechanics of transactions follow a classic web service model, meaning the perpetrator and the provider need never come in contact.

 

Providers that conduct attacks-as-a-service even post their services online, with tiered pricing reflecting the different types of attack that they offer. Prices are based on several factors. They can include the duration of the attack, the perceived value of the target, the country in which the attack takes place and/or the different methodologies employed.

 

In Arbor Networks 12th annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report, 59 percent of respondents estimated their downtime costs as being more than USD500/ minute in lost revenue (some ZAR6,700 per minute with the rand/dollar exchange rate on around ZAR13.50 to the dollar), with some indicating even higher losses. This also does not factor in the costs of repairing the damage, potential legal costs of settling with customers denied service, or reputational damage to the company’s brand.

 

Hamman concluded, “Here in South Africa, we may not yet face the overtness of DDoS operators advertising their services, as can be seen in the US. However, this does not mean that local companies shouldn’t be vigilant against DDoS attacks – protection is more vital than ever. A hybrid solution that combines on-premises and cloud-based protection is the industry best practice in DDoS defence. When you accept that DDoS attacks aren’t going away, and in fact are projected to escalate, it makes the best economic sense of all to make sure that you are adequately prepared against a DDoS attack.”

 

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