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Oh, it’s digital. Again.

Posted by radio On February - 28 - 2020 ADD COMMENTS

Digital transformation is not leaving anyone behind. It’s the hero in its own disruptive movie, ensuring the safety of everyone in distress by taking them to places that nobody is entirely sure they understand. The Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) is the product of digital’s commitment to change, as is the introduction of emergent technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML). Financial institutions are changing their rules of customer engagement and industry verticals after the business silos are following suit. Digital is imperative and it’s one that communication service providers have recognised as one train it needs to ride.

“The telecoms industry is shifting its focus and looking for ways to maintain and grow its subscriber base and part of this is causing them to undertake the journey from operator to digital services provider (DSP),” explains Senior Research and Consulting Manager at International Data Corporation, Sabelo Dlamini. “They want to develop new revenue streams and optimise performance by investing in efficient and automated processes.”

 

Digital opens new spaces within which the operators can build new foundations for the business. It’s where the AI and business intelligence and analytics platforms reside, providing operators with deeper intelligence into customer behaviour and requirements for improved solution development and performance. It allows for greater agility in developing solutions and services and the ability to pivot alongside ever-changing market demand.

 

“One of the primary reasons why operators are moving towards the DSP model now, more so than in the past, is because of shrinking traditional revenues,” says Dlamini. “The market is also being threatened by the over-the-top (OTT) service providers as their competitive pricing and offerings are threatening the survival of the traditional operator. They need to get out from under digital’s cloud and leverage it to their own advantage if they want to survive in the current market.”

 

Disruption is another factor in the changing mindset and strategy of the operator. The industry is being disrupted by fresh new talent and innovative ideas that have sprung out of digital. It’s a whole new world and those that don’t transform and adapt are those that will be tied to the tracks, watching the oncoming train with dispassionate disbelief.

 

“Disruption by new digital-native service providers in the industry is driving the operators to transform themselves into digital service providers,” says Dlamini. “An informed customer base is far more demanding now than in the past – they want better customer experiences at a cheaper price point, and they want it now.”

 

The process isn’t smooth sailing. Disruption and digital and the need to transform notwithstanding, the operators have a lot of legacy technology to deal with. They must find a way of moving away from the rigid processes that they’re used to so that they can develop a more agile and flexible approach to service delivery. This is what the digital-native OTTs are used to, this is their foundation, which puts them at a competitive advantage.

 

“Operators need to change their culture and their approaches,” says Dlamini. “As the picture changes, telcos are no longer the only service providers and the ecosystem has become incredibly diverse. This is an opportunity for the telco that’s paying attention to its customer base but also competition as established OTTs and digital competitors win the war for the customer’s attention.”

 

Many of the telcos in South Africa are aware of the areas in which they need to transform. This awareness is visible in their push for spectrum allocation and their focus on leveraging 5G solutions and technologies. Whether these intentions succeed and whether they successfully transition to the DSP remains to be seen.

 

“The operators need to break down internal silos such as mobile and fixed within the organisation and transform into more customer-centric digital providers, or digital service providers,” concludes Dlamini. “This requires drastic change within the operator itself in order to drive the speed of the train, to ensure that they achieve a successful outcome to the journey.”

 

Are the tracks built? Not really, no. Many operators are still trying to figure out how to smash down internal walls and leverage digital while juggling shrinking margins and disappearing customers. With speed, disruptive thinking and a focus on the value of digital, this may yet be the moment that telcos look back on with fondness. But whether or not they’re there to look back remains to be seen.

 

 

[Article by: IDC]

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The intelligent mine: The real world in sensors

Posted by radio On February - 20 - 2020 ADD COMMENTS

 

The Internet of Things (IoT) has become many things in the mining industry. A canary that uses sensors to monitor underground air quality, a medic that monitors healthcare, a security guard that’s constantly on guard, and underground mobile vehicle control. It has evolved from the simple connectivity of essential sensors to devices into an ecosystem of indispensable tools and solutions that redefine how mining manages people, productivity and compliance. According to Karien Bornheim, CEO of Footprint Africa Business Solutions (FABS), IoT offers an integrated business solution that can deliver long-term, strategic benefits to the mining industry.

“To fully harness the business potential of IoT, the mining sector has to understand precisely how it can add value,” she adds. “IoT needs to be implemented across the entire value chain in order to deliver fully optimised, relevant and turnkey operational solutions. It doesn’t matter how large the project is, or how complex, what matters is that it is done in line with business strategy and with a clear focus.”

 

Over the past few years, mining organisations have deployed emerging technologies to help bolster flagging profits, manage increasingly weighty compliance requirements, and reduce overheads. These technologies are finding a foothold in an industry that faces far more complexities around employee wellbeing and safety than many others, and that juggles numerous moving parts to achieve output and performance on a par with competitive standards. Already, these technologies have allowed mines to fundamentally change worker safety protocols and improve working conditions. They have also provided mining companies with the ability to embed solutions into legacy platforms, allowing for sensors and IoT to pull them into a connected net that delivers results.

 

“The key to achieving results with any IoT or technology project is to partner with service providers, not just shove solutions into identified gaps,” says Bornheim. “You need to start in the conceptual stage and move through the pre-feasibility and bankable feasibility stages before you start the implementation. Work with trained and qualified chemical, metallurgical, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and structural engineers that form a team led by a qualified engineering lead with experience in project management. This is the only way to ensure that every aspect of the project is aligned with the industry and its highly demanding specifications.”

 

Mining not only has complexities in compliance and health and safety, but the market has become saturated, difficult and mercurial. For organisations to thrive, they must find new revenue streams and innovate the ways in which they do business. This is where the data delivered by IoT sensors and devices can really transform the bottom line. If translated, analysed and used correctly, the data can provide insights that allow for the executive to make informed decisions about sites, investment and potential.

“The cross-pollination of different data sets from across different sites can help shift dynamics in plant operation and maintenance, in the execution of specific tasks, and so much more,” says Bornheim. “In addition, with sensors and connected devices and systems, mining operations can be managed intelligently to ensure the best results from equipment and people.”

 

The connection of the physical world to the digital is not new. Many of the applications currently being used or presented to the mining industry are not new either. What’s new is how these solutions are being implemented and the ways in which they are defined. It’s more than sticking on sensors. It’s using these sensors to streamline business across buildings, roads, vehicles, equipment, and sites. These sensors and the ways in which they are used or where they are installed can be customised to suit specific business requirements.

 

“With qualified electronic engineers and software experts, you can design a vast array of solutions to meet the real needs of your business,” says Bornheim. “Our engineers can programme, create, migrate and integrate embedded IoT solutions for microcontrollers, sensors, and processors. They can also develop intuitive dashboards and human-machine interfaces for IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to manage the input and output of a wide range of functionalities.”

 

The benefits of IoT lie in its ubiquity. It can be used in tandem with artificial intelligence or machine learning systems to enhance analytics, improve the automation of basic processes and monitor systems and equipment for faults. It can be used alongside M2M applications to enhance the results and the outcomes of the systems and their roles. And it can be used to improve collaboration and communication between man, machine and mine.

 

“You can use IoT platforms to visualise mission-critical data for device monitoring, remote control, alerts, security management, health and safety and healthcare,” concludes Bornheim. “The sky is genuinely the limit, especially now that the cost of sensors has come down and the intelligence of solutions and applications has gone up. From real-time insights to hands-on security and safety alerts to data that changes business direction and focus, IoT brings a myriad of benefits to the table.”

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