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Breaking Office Walls With Augmented And Virtual Reality

These days just about anything can be composited with an AR component and the future will also see the rise of mixed reality – a combination of real and virtual worlds, whereby an action in the virtual world will affect the real world. This is only the beginning of 2018!

Mic Mann

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These days there’s so much to be said of office space. We’re seeing open-plan spaces with hot desks, large windows with natural light and plants, game rooms, gardens, in-office restaurants, pet-friendly areas, and anything else you can think of that stimulates creativity and productivity in the work place.

Astronauts, surgeons and engineering companies are huge supporters of remote virtual reality-enabled training as it decreases risks and costs. At the inaugural SingularityU South Africa Summit Mxolisi Mgojo, CEO of Exxaro Resources, spoke about how their employees, some of whom hadn’t completed matric, were able to operate and fix complex mining machines and vehicles with the help of a remote online expert and virtual reality. Yet some business owners are still asking themselves whether there is budget for augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) in the average business.

The two are often confused – virtual reality places you in a 360-degree animated or live-action environment with the help of a head set; while augmented reality creates a composite view by superimposing a computer-generated image on the real world with the help of a smartphone, tablet or AR-enabled device.

I believe 2018 will be the year in which the digital dimension in the work place – thanks to AR and VR technologies – will become more of a reality beyond merely gaming or entertainment. It will add another layer to our world.

Related: How The Digital World Has Impacted HR

The VR market is estimated to exceed $40 billion by 2020, according to the Global Virtual Reality Market (Hardware and Software) and Forecast by Orbis Research. The biggest players – with a 50% market share in 2016 – were Sony, Facebook, Google and Samsung. Augmented and virtual reality are going to be a trillion-dollar industry in the near future. At SingularityU South Africa, we see it as one of the disruptive exponential technologies that is rapidly changing our world.

Apple iOS11 is equipped with ARKit technology and in future all smartphones are going to be AR-enabled, which is really going to be a gamechanger. Augmented and virtual reality are going to become ubiquitous. I predict that both technologies will be mainstream by 2020.

So, what will work stations, offices and businesses of the future look like and how will these technologies change the way we work?

Virtual and augmented reality will replace 2D computer screens with 3D presentations that are brought to life through animations fused with real-life components. Though we’re still in the early stages, mobile- and desktop-enabled VR and AR applications will allow employees to put on a compact head set that is comfortable to wear for an extended period of time, and be transported through space where all their applications – spread sheets, Word documents, web browsers – are infinitely suspended in the air around them. A video feed will allow them to see their hands typing on the keyboard. It’ll be like something out of Minority Report.

Icelandic tech start-up Mure VR has caught onto what psychology calls Attention Restoration Theory and high-fascination environments (nature’s patterns, textures and colours), which stimulate cognitive renewal and improve concentration. So, they developed the Breakroom app. The virtual desktop-type app allows users to become wholly immersed in any kind of natural landscape and background. Such VR environments encourage greater productivity and fewer distractions in the work space.

Virtual reality is slowly but surely going to kill video conferencing because it’s a much more immersive experience. Gone will be the days of Google Hangouts and Skype conference calls, when you can have a virtual boardroom with executives from around the world, who just have to put on their head sets to see an animated or real-life avatar of their colleagues, as if they are in front of them. It’ll forgo the necessity to travel to attend those meetings – saving time, travel and accommodation costs, while decreasing traveller friction. Because VR allows employees to work from home, we’re also going to see a rise in the location-independent workforce and digital nomads that work more flexible hours and have a healthier work-life balance.

Besides the obvious virtues of augmented and virtual reality in the office, these technologies also allow businesses to sell their products to clients in more immersive ways, undergo realistic customer-service scenarios without the risk and reduced costs, and provide near real-life simulations of technical procedures that allow employees to fix things through remote viewing.

One of 2017’s greatest breakthroughs was how the medical industry started to embrace Microsoft’s HoloLens for medical education and diagnosis. Cleveland Clinic and Case Western Reserve University in the United States are leading the way.

Magic Leap’s Leap One AR headset – which includes a wireless controller and is kitted out with cameras and sensors for accurate head and body-tracking – is essentially a wearable computer. Whatever it is that you’d do on your smartphone or computer is projected into your field of view, about the size of a VHS tape if your arms are half extended. It gives users a viewing window into mixed reality.

This is definitely going to be one of the biggest things to watch in 2018. And we’ll see many more improvements in wearable technologies in the coming months and years.

Related: The 10 Best New-Age Business Ideas You Haven’t Heard About Yet

Then there’s how virtual reality will impact the real estate sector. Instead of wasting time and money driving from one residential or commercial property to the next, a realtor can walk you through a number of properties around the world within an hour. Once you’ve bought the property, you can use the recently launched IKEA Place AR app, which runs on Apple’s ARKit, to virtually furnish it with the swipe of your finger. The app scales the IKEA products, based on room dimensions, with 98% accuracy and it’s so detailed that you can even see the texture of the fabric.

Augmented and virtual reality are going to be used more and more for company inductions, team building in the form of gamification features as well as for promotional and marketing campaigns as with some of Mann Made’s projects from the Carling Cup virtual reality 360-degree video to our VR activations that use the Oculus Rift or Apple’s ARkit.

These days just about anything can be composited with an AR component and the future will also see the rise of mixed reality – a combination of real and virtual worlds, whereby an action in the virtual world will affect the real world. This is only the beginning of 2018!

Mic Mann is a futurist, speaker and strategist on exponential technologies. In 2017 he co-organised the inaugural SingularityU South Africa Summit. He runs the Johannesburg Singularity Global Impact Challenge and the SU JHB chapter. As co-founder of Mann Made, an award-winning agency, he works with start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. Mic’s passionate about entrepreneurship, has 16 years of experience in the media and marketing industries, and is involved in the start-up and maker communities. Stalk Mic on Twitter: @micmannsa.

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Is Data Protection One Of Your Top Concerns? It Should Be

With data breaches on the rise, can you afford to ignore the protection of your company’s most valuable asset?

Kaspersky Lab

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Did You Know?

28% of companies surveyed¹ in South Africa, from different industries, consider data protection to be one of the top concerns facing businesses.


As the business world continues to transform digitally, data is emerging as a critical asset for SMEs across most industries and is in fact, for some, the only asset that accumulates all the company’s value. However, the consequences and cost to company of data breaches is a disturbing certainty for SMEs. New research² shows that in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region, the average cost of a breach for an SME has reached $114 000 to date in 2018, which is already 30% higher than in 2017 ($88 000).

The reality is that cybercriminal tactics are only evolving and apart from the consideration of highly targeted type cyberattacks that steal data, SMEs must consider all types of data breach scenarios — from advanced exploits to creativity of spam and phishing attacks on trending topics, and the loss of data from misplaced or stolen mobile devices.

The evolution of cyberthreats facing SMEs calls for an evolution in cybersecurity to ensure data protection can be achieved and the risk of cyberattack kept minimal.

Related: Building Organisational Wealth With Accurate Data For Enhanced Decision-Making

Next generation protection and control

In the likely event of more business operations going digital, SMEs must protect every endpoint in their business, as the endpoint is the prime target and source of the majority of problems. Endpoints have become the front door to business networks and information, and while their physical security is beyond an organisation’s control, SMEs must find a way of securing the data stored on them.

The answer? Data encryption minimises the risk of information leaks that may occur when a portable computer, removable drive or hard drive is lost or stolen, or when data is accessed by unauthorised users or applications.

The process of encryption can be managed by a single console that makes it easy for a business to control the security of devices and the data stored on them. With encryption measures in place, even if a device does fall into the wrong hands, it won’t be possible to access the data stored on it.

Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business

Kaspersky offers just this type of protection needed — and much more — in a single solution with one easy-to-use management console. It is based on Machine Learning-based next generation protection that can help SMEs protect every endpoint their business runs through:

  • Encryption Management
  • Mobile security and device management
  • Protecting against the latest threats, including unknown malware
  • Hardens endpoints — to reduce exposure to cyberattacks
  • Helps boost productivity — via Cloud-enabled usage controls
  • Protects servers and endpoints without damaging performance
  • Secures diverse environments — PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android
  • Simplifies security management — with one unified console.

Related: A Cloud Is A Cloud, No Matter What Business You’re In, Right? Wrong!

Every SME’s IT is a unique mix of systems, networks and devices — where IT security needs to fit into existing infrastructure easily and protect every element of it without slowing the business down and without a financial knock. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business does just this and is the true cybersecurity platform built from the ground up, offering a business-critical combination of deep protection for data, efficiency and seamless manageability of endpoints — helping SMEs deploy security rapidly with minimal fuss.

kaspersky-lab


¹ Kaspersky Lab Global IT Security Survey 2017, South Africa data I

² What is the cost of a data breach? Kaspersky Lab IT security economics report

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What Every South African Entrepreneur Should Know About GDPR

Compliance, data, legislation, risk – terms that your business needs on its radar right now.

Chris Ogden

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It was on 25 May 2018 that the long awaited and often discussed General Data Protection Regulation came into effect. This shiny, new European Union (EU) legislation was created to ensure that the data of all EU residents was protected properly and provides in-depth guidelines into the collection and processing of their personal information. It may not sound like this is something even remotely relevant to your business, but wait, it really, really is..

If the data that is being processed by your company belongs to an EU resident or if your data is located somewhere other than South Africa then the relevance is suddenly very clear. If you store or process anyone from the EU, you need to get to grips with this legislation and what it means to your business and your customers. If you don’t, you could be in line for some very heavy financial penalties. And no, the fact you’re on a separate continent isn’t going to make you immune.

So what do I do?

Spend some time getting to know the legislation. The Act has been laid out to help you figure out where you could be affected and what you need to do to mitigate the risk. It has a separate definition for ‘sensitive personal data’ that relates to information concerning a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union activities, physical or mental health, sexual preferences and criminal offences.

If you don’t understand the terminology or you’re unsure as to whether or not it applies to your business, speak to a professional. The cost in money and time is far less than the one you may incur if you are in breach of GDPR. It will also very likely help you get on track to become compliant with South Africa’s POPI Act too.

Related: GDPR Is Coming – And SA Firms Are Not Ready

Why should I care?

You can be financially and reputationally penalised if you are found to be in contravention of this new legislation.

What steps should I take?

As well as speaking with a professional and reading the GDPR legislative requirements, you should understand the risks and how they could impact you and your EU client base. Whether you are a controller or a processor of data, the act still applies. However, it will only apply if your organisation operates in the EU or serves EU individuals, not so much where you host your applications.

Why bother if I don’t have EU connections?

Over the past few years data breaches have become so common they’re almost not newsworthy anymore. However, this doesn’t change the fact that consumers are impacted and businesses are voiding responsibility. Like the ability to opt out of marketing materials or permanently remove accounts from platforms where the information must be permanently destroyed.

GDPR ensures that breached scenarios are reported within 72 hours of becoming aware of it and the fines can range from 10 million Euro to 4% of global turnover, whichever is higher. If you’re not connected to the EU, POPI is set to have equally stringent rules attached to it and consumers are becoming increasingly fed up with being left to deal with the impact of bad business behaviour. You have been warned…

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Technology

How Blockchain Will Disturb The E-Commerce Industry In The Next Few Years

What is blockchain? And how will it disturb the e-commerce? Those are questions we should be asking ourselves. In this article, we will be answering these questions to help you understand, blockchain technology and how it will disturb the e-commerce industry in the next few years.

Jandre de Beer

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In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto invented blockchain to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. The creation of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency, to resolve the double-spending problem without the need for a trusted authority or central server.

So, what is blockchain? a blockchain is an endless growing list of records called blocks, which is linked and secured using cryptography.

Each block naturally contains a cryptographic hash of the former block, a timestamp and transaction data.

As a design, blockchains are resistant to modification of the data and is an open distributed ledger which can record transactions between two parties proficiently, and in a verifiable and lasting way.

Blockchain permits digital information to be communicated between a decentralised, peer-to-peer (P2P) network creating a new type of internet.

Blockchain functions like a digital ledger or spreadsheet which can be accessed by everyone, but the former input cannot be edited without that edit appearing in the audit trail.

Having a high-level understanding of how blockchain works, will help you stay ahead of the competition.

Related: 5 Basics To Success When Starting An Ecommerce Business

There are a number of key features which make the network exciting for eCommerce brands like:

  1. Decentralised – Blockchain works over a P2P network. Data is not held in a single location, which makes it more reliable. Nobody owns or is in charge of the blockchain, which means its free of influence from governments or large corporations.
  2. Immutable – transactions are append-only, meaning once data is recorded it cannot be changed without that change is visible in the audit trail.
  3. Near real-time – stakeholders can work collaboratively in real-time over a sole, trusted ledger.

The challenges that the eCommerce industry face today are trust, frauds, slow transactions and other costs. Going forward blockchain will disturb the challenges and create a whole new revolution in the eCommerce industry in the following ways:

  1. Cheaper Transactions – blockchain allows the existence of “smart contracts” which would be software programs that will self-execute contract instructions, lowering the cost and complexity of transfers and transactions.
  2. Faster transactions – transactions, order details, commissions in the form of smart contracts can be used to save all documents, shipping, delivery and possible events which affect financial settlements. Thus, every individual or company involved in the supply chain can make vital data visible to others, which lowers disputes, delays, disorganisation and speeds up the transaction process.
  3. Transparency – blockchains store entire owner history, no matter where the product goes and how many times its bought, which eliminates the frauds and brings transparency to consumer and merchant.

In conclusion, blockchain has ushered a new revolution of digital currency and transaction system where intermediaries like brokers, banker’s lawyers might not be needed at all.

Read next: 6 Steps To Building A Million-Dollar Ecommerce Site In 60 Days

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