Tag: IT

Tech trends for 2019

By Bernard Marr for Forbes

Every year, many of my clients ask me about the key technology trends that I believe will define the coming year. Here are my predictions of the tech trends that have the potential to make or break careers and businesses in 2019.

While some of these may seem obvious – no one will be surprised to hear that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are likely to remain hot topics – the disruptive nature of tech means it’s likely we will get a few surprises.

Artificial intelligence everywhere

The year 2018 will be remembered as the year that artificial intelligence (AI) hit the mainstream, but in 2019 and beyond it’s going to be absolutely everywhere.

This is because hardware and software developers have passed the trial period – experimenting to see where AI fits, and where it can deliver the biggest improvements in customer experience and productivity improvements.

In many cases we won’t even know it’s there – as machine learning services work quietly in their clouds, managing everything from power networks to distribution logistics and financial transactions.

In other cases, it will be highly visible – as our smartphones, home assistants, kitchen gadgets and cars put increasingly sophisticated tools at our fingertips.

The AI we interact with day-to-day – whether it is Google search engines, Netflix recommendation engines or assistants like Alexa or Siri – will become increasingly ubiquitous as well as useful, as breakthroughs in deep learning and reinforcement learning lead to more capable and reliable services.

Rapid changes in healthcare delivery

Undoubtedly one of the most crucial and worthy applications of technology – expect machines to be credited with saving more lives in 2019.

With much of the world facing a shortage of trained medical professionals, and even rich nations feeling the bite due to economic pressures, technology is often hailed as a potential savior.

From AI systems capable of detecting cancer or heart attacks to the rollout of telemedicine allowing patients to be treated in their homes, perhaps no industry is pinning its hopes for the future so firmly on tech as healthcare is.

This year could be the year that their impact on patient outcomes and quality-of-life comes to the attention of the mainstream. With projects moving out of pilot phases and beginning to go into operational deployment, we will see technology costs coming down and more providers such as hospitals and clinics being able to cover the up-front cost.

At the same time, a growing awareness of personal data issues – particularly in developing countries where they have so far not been given much thought at all – will lead to growing concern over what is happening with all of the data that is being generated by these 21st-century solutions.

There will also be voices cautioning that when ill people are being examined remotely and diagnosed by machines, the “personal touch” which has long been an essential skill for doctors and nurses will be lost, and the long-term implications of this are far from certain.

You won’t hear as much about blockchain – but it’s far from dead

One “hot topic” on a lot of last years’ lists (including mine) was blockchain. This year, it is somewhat conspicuous by its absence.

A lot of this may be down to the slump in the price of cryptocurrency Bitcoin – still blockchain’s most public-facing application. However, reports that many private commercial or industrial blockchain initiatives are still failing to demonstrate much real-world value are also a factor.

Does this mean that blockchain is dead? I think it’s far too early to make that call. The fundamental principle of a distributed ledger, secured by encryption, providing an immutable record of transactional activity, still holds a tremendous amount of potential value.

Organizations may be struggling to see their way to building the most successful implementations, and in 2019 we may well see the folding of any number of previously highly-publicized attempts.

But innovation is still going on behind the scenes, and it is probable that less publicized but well thought-out initiatives may start to generate value. A rise in the value of Bitcoin (which has crashed just as spectacularly as it did this year in the past, before rising to ever-greater heights) would reinvigorate interest in the underlying tech, too -for better or worse.

Smart cities will become smarter

Residents of cities where investment has been made in environmental, utility management and transport infrastructure tech will start to see real benefits in their daily lives during 2019.

All of these infrastructure initiatives require one thing – beyond even money or innovation – to deliver real results, and that’s real data, gathered from real-world applications.

With many of these projects around the world beginning to mature, the volume of data will reach a critical mass meaning the impact on our lives – from cleaner air to cheaper energy and more efficient public services, can start to take effect.

Those that aren’t generating value by this point will be abandoned – in line with the “fail fast” ethos that drives tech development today. On the other hand, where pilots and trials in global showcase smart cities have been demonstrated beyond doubt, we can expect those initiatives to be adopted elsewhere quickly.

Global eSports revenues hit $1 billion

According to research from Deloitte, the market for eSports – video games played as a spectator sport – will expand by 35% in the next year.

The growth in the number of people wanting to watch professional video game players, particularly although not exclusively among the younger demographic, has already swept through Asian countries. Experts predict 2019 could be the year it hits the big time in the US, too.

Franchise rights, advertising, and broadcast agreements will drive spending as audiences get hooked on newly formed leagues, tapping into the fanbase for successful video game series such as Fifa, NBA, Fortnite, and Overwatch.

eSports have grown in popularity due to their existence at the convergence of several trends -notably changes in our leisure habits, with younger people watching less television and playing more games. And a move towards building online, social communities where fans interact and converse.

The elevation of professional game players to the level of professional athletes and sportspeople is a developing trend which is also likely to continue, with big money on offer for those who prove they can attract audiences to this entertainment.

Standard Bank to retrench 526 IT workers

By Kabelo Khumalo for IOL 

South Africa’s jobs bloodbath is raging with Standard Bank today announcing that the restructuring of its IT division will see more than 500 workers sacrificed.

Standard Bank spokesperson Ross Linstrom says of the impacted permanent staff, the majority are in the executive and managerial bands.

“This process will result in 526 IT employees receiving Section 189 notices which will commence the consultative process with the employees involved”.

“This process will create over 180 new-generation IT positions within the bank. Regrettably, this will also result in the loss of a number of existing traditional IT positions,” Linstrom said.

The bank said the restructuring was instigated by “emerging technologies and increased demands from customers”.

The unrelenting jobs bloodbath seems to be gathering steam. Power Utility Eskom has already announced plans to cut its workforce, the SABC has said it would have to let go of more than 1 000 workers for it to keep afloat. Telkom’s subsidiary BCX last week also joined the bandwagon and warned that it will retrench about 700 employees.

Ironically, as part of stemming the jobs bloodbath, all stakeholders at the Jobs Summit held last month had committed themselves to concrete steps to avoid retrenchments and support struggling companies.

Government’s entire IT system goes down

By Gaye Davis for EWN 

It has emerged that not only Home Affairs but IT systems across government were affected by Friday’s power outage.

The head of the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) has told Parliament that the power outage that caused Home Affairs’ systems to shutdown triggered a “catastrophic event” that affected all of government.

Sita CEO Dr Setumo Mohapi and the Department of Home Affairs have been called to Parliament to explain what went wrong.

Mohapi has painted a worrying picture of system and communication failures.

Sita’s generator kicked in when power from Tshwane municipality failed at 2am but its fuel pump burned out for reasons that are as yet unclear.

An overloaded UPS battery system then went into distress and systems had to be shut down at Home Affairs as well as government’s entire IT plant.

Mohapi on Tuesday explained: “It was a catastrophic event that affected not just Home Affairs but the entire IT system of government.”

Mohapi’s apologised for what happened, including a second power outage that took place on Monday, when Home Affairs systems were again down for around 90 minutes.

Mohapi says he wasn’t informed until hours after the power outage. Home Affairs’ acting Director-General Thulani Mavuso says they also had no early warning, leading to their systems crashing rather than being properly shut down.

Which IT job pays best in South Africa?

Source: CareerJunction

Jobs portal CareerJunction has published it latest salary review for 2018, showing among others what the average IT employee earns per month.

CareerJunction used actual salary offerings on their jobs portal Web site (16 000+ jobs monthly) for the latest measurable period (December 2017 to May 2018).

Skill levels covered in the report include both intermediate and senior.

IT management jobs saw the biggest jump in salary, moving from R59 490 per month to R66 010 (11%). Systems analysts were the worse hit by decreases, losing 17.1% in value over the year (from R42 420 to R35 170).


Image credit: Business Tech

Regional salary differences

The Western Cape and Gauteng remain favourable locations to work for IT professionals. Salaries in these regions are very close to the national average while salaries in KwaZulu-Natal are not nearly as competitive.

The salary ranges above are based on monthly “cost to company” remuneration and only serve as an indication of the average salary offerings for each occupation.

Police take IT supplier to court

By Angelique Serrao for News24

The battle between the police and a supplier that switched off access to critical IT systems last week has hit the courts.

Last week, Forensic Data Analysts (FDA), a police supplier which has been accused of corruption, threatened to suspend the police’s Property Control and Exhibit Management (PCEM) and Firearm Permit System (FPS), unless the police and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) pay them.

The company, run by businessman Keith Keating, claimed SITA had not paid them for five months for their services.

The two systems – as well as a system called the VA-Amis proprietary solution – supplied by Keating’s other company Investigative Software Solutions (ISS) – were all switched off, leaving the police’s capacity to handle forensic evidence, firearm controls and their ability to do in-depth investigations stranded.

Police responded publicly to FDA by saying that it was coming up with contingency solutions.

Behind the scenes, in a letter seen by News24, attorneys for the SAPS and SITA wrote to FDA and ISS saying that, in barring the police from accessing the three systems, the companies were acting unlawfully.

They went into detail about each of the three systems and their functions, and stated why they believed FDA could not block them from accessing them.

FPS, they said, was initiated in 2006 to perform critical functions of marking, identifying, issuing and tracking its firearms. It also enables the storage of information regarding the ballistic characteristics of the firearms.

The letter said SAPS was granted a permanent, non-expiring licence to use the FPS and to make sufficient copies for backup purposes. SAPS paid a once-off licence fee of R11.6-million and this meant that, by stopping the police from using the system, the FDA was acting unlawfully, the letter stated.

The PCEM system is used to log evidence and track it throughout the process, ensuring the chain of evidence is not broken.

Lawyers representing SAPS said in the letter that SAPS access to the PCEM system was governed by a written agreement concluded between the police and Unysis Africa in 2010.

“In exchange for the PCEM licence, SAPS was required to pay a once-off licence fee of R35 910 000,” the letter said.

“Notwithstanding, the fact that SAPS paid the full licence fee to Unysis under the PCEM Licence Agreement, FDA has with effect from 5 April 2018, unlawfully prevented SAPS and/or any of its members from accessing the PCEM system.”

The VA-Amis contract, SAPS said, was governed by a written agreement between SITA and ISS concluded in June 2017.

In exchange for the licence and performance of the VA-Amis services, SITA was required to remunerate ISS in the form of service fees which could not exceed R80 954 179, the letter said. This full amount was paid to ISS the SAPS lawyers said.

Police and SITA then threatened to go to court on an urgent basis if the systems were not turned on.

News24 understands that the police were set to approach the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria earlier this week on an urgent basis, but the application was halted after the systems were restored.

The case is set to be heard on Thursday instead.

The State wants the companies to restore the police’s possession of, access to and use of the intellectual property for the three systems.

Keating told News24 that FDA was served with an urgent application on Monday afternoon to restore all the services “due to the fact that SITA and SAPS now suddenly admit that the services are mission critical and of national importance”.

Keating said they agreed to switch on VA-Amis, but “due to SITA legal now playing games around the terms of switching back on, this has still not occurred”.

SITA and SAPS re-established the services for FPS and PCEM illegally, Keating said.

He said that FDA would approach the court on an urgent basis.

Ex-Eskom bosses grilled over R1bn IT tender

The “overpriced” R1 billion information technology tender that Eskom awarded to outsourcing giant T-Systems two years ago is still haunting the under-fire power utility.

The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises yesterday continued its inquiry on Eskom into the mismanagement of state funds in state-owned enterprises.

According to Business Report, the Eskom board came under fire over “how it axed former executives and pushed through a tender deal of R1 billion for information technology and maintenance at power stations”.
Two witnesses appeared before the committee – former Eskom CEO Tshediso Matona and Eskom’s former group executive for enterprise development, Erica Johnson.

Briefing the committee, Matona said that by the time he arrived at Eskom in October 2014, there was significant turmoil within the board and there was fighting over a range of governance issues. The most pertinent matter was around procurement.

He was suspended by the board five months after his appointment.

German-based multinational T-Systems first secured the deal in December 2010, when it purchased state-owned ICT service provider arivia.kom, which came with the five-year, R500 million per annum Eskom deal – at the time described as one of the biggest outsourcing transactions in SA’s history.

However, it is understood excessive pricing was the main driver for Eskom wanting to shop around for a new service
provider.

In May 2012, Eskom, nonetheless, said it would retain the services of outsourcing giant T-Systems SA for another two years, after it announced the previous month that it was scrapping its tender for the provision of outsourcing IT infrastructure services. The tender was reportedly “overpriced”.

Responding to questions over the tender, Matona said: “There was infighting about whether T-Systems should get the tender or somebody else.”

He indicated the issues at Eskom rendered the board dysfunctional in many ways. That could be one of the reasons shareholders decided to change the board in December 2014.

When questioned around his suspension, Matona said the suspension came as a complete shock, “by a board that had just taken office and a board that was still familiarising itself with issues of the company”.

He said: “I expressed my disagreement of a new investigation, an investigation of my removal without any basis of why I had to be removed. At the time I did not know that the same was being proposed for other executives; I was handed a letter of suspension. I believe the action was wrong and I went to the Labour Court and sought urgent relief to indicate that my suspension was unfair and that I should be reinstated.”

Responding to questions around governance at Eskom, Matona said the challenge of governance and what confronted Eskom was financial performance of the company.

“The books were not balancing and there were a number of factors, revenue was under pressure and this was as a result of the economic slowdown at the time. The economic slowdown was becoming apparent at that time. The issue of tariff – as to whether it was sufficient to sustain the balance sheet, the issue of debt with municipalities which was escalating. The long and short of it is that Eskom was in serious financial trouble,” he said.

By Admire Moyo for ITWeb

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top