Wi-Fi is an Answer for Africa: Across Africa demands are changing, access models are changing and consumers are blurring the lines between corporate

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Wi-Fi is an Answer for Africa

Wi-Fi is an Answer for Africa

Across Africa demands are changing, access models are changi...

Shortage of Information Security skills in South Africa a cause for concern

Shortage of Information Security skills in South Africa…

The Information Security field is extremely fast moving, how...

Tips to ensure mobile safety

Tips to ensure mobile safety

Today, we cannot live without our mobile phones. We use our ...

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Friday, 31 January 2014 13:31

Mobile Enterprise Resource Planning: if it’s not secure by design, it’s not good enough

Mobile Enterprise Resource Planning: if it’s not secure by design, it’s not good enough

Mobile devices are everywhere today – but just how many are secured against data loss? Even the iPads and smartphones belonging to those who should know better are routinely secured by nothing more than a passcode. And as enterprise software on mobile devices becomes more popular, that could potentially leave the keys to the kingdom easily available, says HansaWorld SA Director and Product Manager Alan Sher.


“This is one of the key reasons, why mobile devices are not fully taken advantage of in a business setting. Instead, the remarkable power of modern handsets are mainly used for private and social activities, leaving a considerable opportunity for business enhancement largely untouched,” he says.


That is unless you are using business software which is secure by design – and designed for mobile.

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Published in Security
Monday, 03 June 2013 10:46

What’s the worry with first time ERP?

What’s the worry with first time ERP?

Ambitious business owners soon come to a crossroads where they must decide to implement better business systems to support on-going growth, or choose to remain at a smaller scale. When this crossroads is reached, the answer from a systems perspective is an Enterprise Resource Planning solution. Deciding to implement an ERP system means the business owner is faced with tough questions and concerns.

Published in Analytics & BI
Friday, 15 March 2013 12:22

Africa’s future is mobile

Africa’s future is mobile

Africa is an increasingly mobile continent, making smart mobile application development one of the continent’s next big industries.


The mobile application space is set to boom across Africa, as enterprises and developers lead the world in bringing to market unique mobile applications suited to a developing market.


There are several reasons for this – crucially, Africa is a mobile continent. Mobile devices are becoming smarter, faster and more affordable; smartphone adoption is growing by around 15% year on year across the continent, and mobile bandwidth has become better and more affordable. In addition, mobile applications are particularly relevant in a South African and pan-African context, where a young, increasingly tech-savvy and often geographically dispersed population is fast seeing the advantages of self-service and mobile business.


Advanced, user-friendly mobile apps will be the next customer service excellence differentiator. To maintain a competitive advantage, enterprises will increasingly roll out mobile consumer apps to maintain their competitive lead, and to deliver services. We foresee that many operators will see this as a new way of doing business.


Why? For one thing, mobile apps enhance the customer experience. The old USSD0-based self-service options are not particularly user-friendly, especially for less tech-savvy consumers.  Dialing *123#456# may have sufficed when there was no other alternative, but now consumers can simply press an icon or a menu button on a smartphone to interact with enterprises.


Getting it right

To be effective, mobile apps need to begin with meeting customer needs, and they must be simple and easy to use. They also need to address enterprise pain points – for example, the most common contact centre queries can be migrated to a self-service smartphone app, so improving customer experience and easing the contact centre workload.


They also need to deliver concise, personalised and easy to navigate information to the end-user, supplying all the relevant information at a glance, with the ability to drill down, slice or dice if needed. In the enterprise application space, we see that once mobile workers have access to effective ERP mobile apps, they seldom revert to their laptops to access ERP systems.


Achieving this requires a great deal of preparatory work, to identify what end users need, what the business goals are for the app, and what the current enterprise pain points are, which could be addressed with a customised mobile app.


Leading the world

Africa is traditionally innovative, and because mobile apps are so relevant to the African context, with a low barrier to entry for app developers, we envisage massive growth in the app development space across the continent.


An innovative youngster with little more than internet access and aptitude can learn to develop apps, and bring to market new solutions tailored to meet African needs. It requires a niche skill set, but mobile application development will become the order of the day as demand increases. There is scope for app development across numerous areas – for example, banking, healthcare and education. And apps developed for the African context may also be relevant to other developing regions of the world, meaning there is huge potential for growth in this sector.


While we have seen growth in this space in recent years, the continent’s potential is still relatively untapped; which is why we are now seeing a rush of foreign investors into the continent.  LGR Telecommunications is very excited about the potential for growth in this area, and we are focusing our attention on meeting this growing need for appropriate mobile apps to grow enterprises, enhance quality of service and customer experience.

Published in Mobile
Wednesday, 05 December 2012 00:00

Why ERP solutions have to be mobile – and multiplatform

Why ERP solutions have to be mobile – and multiplatform

With the dramatic emergence of tablet computing into the corporate workspace, enterprise resource vendors have a new frontier to consider: do their applications extend to these devices, and if not, can they stay competitive?


It’s no trivial question. The force of the ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) trend has seen a multiplicity of new platforms and devices enter the workplace. The users of these gadgets represent a new generation of workers, for whom choice and convenience are valuable criteria in determining job satisfaction.


Where other ERP vendors may find the demands of iOS, Android and the Windows Mobile environments somewhat intimidating (or they may even ignore them altogether), others have always embraced multiple platforms. For example, long before the Apple Mac and Linux operating systems gained popularity, HansaWorld was available for clients who made these technology choices.


It’s a legacy which has also propelled the company to stay on the sharp end of compatibility, even as tablet computing emerged from almost nowhere to become the present darling of the industry. With applications available for the iPhone since 2009 and on the iPad since its inception, the rise of Android and now Microsoft Phone don’t present challenges. They present additional opportunities to extend ERP right into the palms of executives around the world.


The Microsoft ecosystem, built around the Windows Phone mobile operating system, and the release of Windows 8 and the Surface tablet, is yet in its infancy. However, a great many CIOs are waiting for devices with a full Microsoft software stack. It will provide them with the necessary control and governance expected of a business; while the Intel-based Microsoft Surface is scheduled for release only in 2013, HansaWorld apps will be available on the Windows Phone marketplace.


It is and always has been a multiplatform world. While in the past, ERP vendors could get away with addressing only one sector of the market, today it is the end-user who is setting the agenda; by providing applications which work regardless of the choice of platform, those end users will be kept happy, productive and loyal to the company.

Published in Mobile
Wednesday, 29 August 2012 09:49

Should your company move to the cloud?

Should your company move to the cloud?

Cloud-based communications has clear benefits, but whether those benefits will accrue to your organisation depends on a number of factors. If your enterprise answers to any of the questions in the checklist below, you may be in the market for a hosted PBX.

Are you likely to expand?

Entities with significant potential for branch-like expansion – such as a medium-to-large-footprint bank, a retail chain or a service station franchise – can derive the most value from cloud telephony. Every time a new branch of franchisee comes on-line, the expense of an on-site PBX has real potential to sink the business case. With cloud, the franchisor or corporate head office can offer hosted telephony into the bargain, significantly lowering the entry barrier for local businesses. In addition, this model of telephony is much easier to roll out and manage for uptime, and the "on-net" savings possible with cloud further lift the business case.*

Are your employees mobile?

Is a significant portion of your workforce mobile, either by virtue of being constantly on the road or remotely stationed? A cloud communications configuration can provide satellite working units with full enterprise collaboration and unified communications at low cost. Even user administration tasks can easily be done via Web portal, from any operating platform (device).

Do you need flexible communications capacity?

Cloud computing operates on a "virtualised" design principle, where physical separations between resources like disk drives or servers are irrelevant – all the computing power represented by these resources are pooled together in an amorphous "cloud" of divisible capacity. In such a scenario, you're not bound by the limitations or excess capacity of discrete servers; you can simply procure just enough virtual capacity for your use in any given month (or shorter time increments). This makes sense for campaign call centres or varying seasonal demands on your business communications.

Is your power supply unpredictable?

Cloud data centres are amply provided with protection against power surges and cuts. The alternative is unappealing – a high-end UPS (uninterruptible power supply) that only keeps you going for so long, or costly on-site power generation.

Does your business rely on collaboration?

You may want to employ cloud techniques to give access to at least some applications, such as hosted enterprise resource planning (ERP) for managing suppliers, or hosted collaboration applications for shared workflow. It is also highly advisable to have hosted communications to cheaply bring partners "on-net" if there is a business relationship requiring constant communication. This applies, for instance, to retailers getting purchasing authorisation from a customer's credit card institution.

Do you need to standardise?

Cloud also makes sense where you want group businesses to standardise on certain applications, such as financial and ERP.

These scenarios are by no means exhaustive, and new usage cases are constantly emerging. Chances are that you will discover a few of your own if you see benefit in having access to shared or centralised ICT infrastructure with best-in-class business continuity assurance.

* On-net savings can accrue between branches, to head office, and even to business partners if the installation provides for it.

Published in Software
Monday, 06 August 2012 11:26

Outsource your ERP landscape for improved business focus and enhanced, tailored ERP services

Outsource your ERP landscape for improved business focus and enhanced, tailored ERP services

It is widely acknowledged that ERP solutions deliver significant benefits, including improved productivity and business insight, improved process standardisation, efficiency, and adaptability and reduced risk. However ERP operations are not a core strength for the majority of organisations. In order to leverage the true value from ERP solutions and services, it makes sense to outsource these to a professional provider that understands the intricacies and has the breadth of experience from working with multiple clients that all experience different scenarios and challenges.
Outsourced application operations for ERP solutions enable organisations to gain access to high quality ERP services tailored to their business requirements, as well as access to a pool of specialist skills and resources to draw on when necessary. This also ensures that organisations are always up to date with the latest technology, and provides greater flexibility with regard to cost structures.
ERP environments can be enormously complex to run, entailing much more than simply provision of infrastructure. These environments consist of several layers, from infrastructure to basic operations, products and provisioning to application management services and system integration services. This often requires additional services to ensure smooth operations and consistent service provision. ERP application operations can enable organisations to outsource any or all of these layers to ensure they are getting the most out of their ERP solution.
An outsourced ERP solution should always include as a first step a governance model, which clearly defines touch points between the customer and the outsource provider. Services should be ITIL compliant, and all processes and procedures should be underpinned by best practice methodology. Once this is in place, the various layers of an ERP environment can be considered in a modular or holistic approach depending on requirements.
Underlying ICT infrastructure should be run on an open, industry standard platform that supports all operating systems. This infrastructure includes all aspects of ICT, from fire protection systems and backup power generators to air conditioning, racks, servers and processors. Network services, desktop services, mobile device integration, storage on demand services and firewall services should also be included to ensure that a comprehensive infrastructure-centric solution is offered.
Operations consist of all computing activities carried out in conjunction with the provisioning and operation of an ERP environment. These include IT infrastructure service such as consulting, configuration, installation, start-up and monitoring. Key tasks that can be outsourced here include hosting, storage and database management as well as ERP services. By outsourcing these aspects organisations can gain access to highly trained specialists who will be responsible for monitoring, reporting, adherence to Service Level Agreements (SLAs) and provision of second and third level support.
The ERP applications layer is one which is quite commonly outsourced, both in terms of technical infrastructure and software, with a view to cutting costs and enabling organisations to focus on their core business. Application operations provide organisations with the ability to become more flexible and agile with their ERP applications in regard to changing requirements. Outsourcing this service enables organisations to leverage the specialist skills required to modify applications to meet dynamic business conditions. These skills are often too expensive to maintain in-house, as application modification is not often a full-time requirement and is not a core business function for most organisations.
On top of these layers it is also possible to outsource application management and modernisation (AMM) and system integration services, which include application development, upgrading, maintenance and modernisation of existing applications. Consulting services are another commonly outsourced area, helping organisations to optimise their ERP operations and system configurations and update landscapes.
ERP, as with all ICT services, should be fully scalable in line with the dynamic and constantly changing modern business environment. This makes outsourcing an attractive option, as this model ensures that services and resources are supplied on demand, offering greater flexibility and value for money.
From a financial perspective, outsourced ERP applications operations have the potential to save organisations money on a sustained basis, turning CAPEX into OPEX and reducing the financial risk that is often associated with operating an ERP environment. Added to this the complexity of the ERP environment and the need for performance, security, transparency and cost-effectiveness, and the argument for outsourcing to a skilled and experienced partner is a compelling one.

Published in Analytics & BI
Friday, 27 July 2012 11:31

HansaWorld delivers ERP on a tablet

HansaWorld delivers ERP on a tablet

Continuing its reputation for being first across a variety of platforms, enterprise resource planning vendor HansaWorld has announced that its software is fully iPad compatible. The development goes beyond putting ERP on to a tablet, as through this move, it is also affirming the growing popularity of tablet computers as a replacement for notebooks.

The company’s strategy is in line with global sales figures for tablets: Some 500 million of these devices are in the market today. That’s a significant number and the impetus behind HansaWorld having a fully-iPad compliant platform in development for over a year now.

The steady introduction of tablet computers is a component of the wider ‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend, itself an extension of the powerful handsets that most office workers bring with them to work. Technology companies cannot ignore this trend any less than CIOs can. Working with it instead allows for improvements in productivity as well as employee satisfaction.

HansaWorld has invested substantially in doing just that. The full Enterprise solution, the company’s flagship product, can be accessed and operated from an iPad. It’s a full client/server interface, with the iPad connecting to the system just as a PC or notebook would.

Designing an ERP solution to operate with a tablet is no small accomplishment. It required practically a full redesign of the user interface to operate with touch input rather than keyboard and mouse; it required resizing of nearly everything, too, to prevent overlapping of buttons and other features.

The investment that HansaWorld has made into creating a fully-iPad accessible ERP is reflective of its confidence in the enduring popularity of tablet devices. There are some roles where the tablet is a clear winner, for example, in stock-taking, customer-facing field work, viewing forms and reports. Our testing has shown that they are suitable for many, if not most, ERP functions.

There is distinct demand for such solutions, too. Most of our customers have tablet computing in their strategic plans, if they aren’t already implementing these devices into their environments one way or another. It does require a mindset shift, just as moving from printed books to reading on a tablet does – but once clients see how well it works, they can see the potential.

In addition to its iPad compatible ERP, HansaWorld has developed modules for Android tablets and is working on a version suitable for the soon-to-be-released Windows 8 platform.

Published in Mobile
Monday, 23 July 2012 22:14

Retailers: Is your future online?

Retailers: Is your future online?

With the growing maturity of internet services of all kinds, the necessity for a web shop for even smaller retailers is becoming more pronounced than ever. Where a decade ago, the suggestion of a push towards ecommerce and a move away from 'bricks and mortar' was undoubtedly ahead of its time, a lot has changed since then. Today, buying products and services online is, for many consumers, the epitome of convenience and value. It is also second-nature.
There are several factors which have combined to make it far easier, far cheaper and now also far more necessary for almost every retailer to consider an online sales presence.
From a technology point of view, the software and tools required to create a self-managed web store have advanced enormously. Where previously it was a complex, time consuming, clumsy and very expensive process to get your shop on the web, today it can be done in as little as three to five days. That includes full functionality to take credit card payments and with integration of the web shop front into the back-end ERP system.
Perhaps even more important is the ability for the retailer or their employees to manage the site, adding new products or items, introducing special deals, and so on. Combined with the low cost of establishing the web store, it is therefore possible to establish a new revenue stream with very little capital expenditure. Indeed, most web shops should fully repay the cost of their establishment within three to twelve months of commencing operations.
Of course, the web store has the 'traditional' advantages of an online marketplace, including a nationwide or even global reach, around-the-clock trade and reduced overheads as goods can be shipped straight from stock or even from suppliers.
With the runaway popularity of smartphones, combined with ever-faster and more affordable terrestrial internet connectivity, even if people aren't buying online, they certainly are searching to check prices, specifications and options. You want your store to be in those search results, so every web shop should be Google-optimised.
Retailers are compelled to consider online sales too, because the competition is increasingly moving online. Add to that the presence of new retailers like Groupon and ShopSavvy which are competing for the same customers and the necessity to take action should be clear.
With internet shopping becoming standard practice for more consumers than ever before, the time has never been better for the retailer to consider a move into the online space. It may just be a move that assures the future of your retail operation.

Published in Online

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