Tag: coronavirus

Dell, HP report sales boost on pandemic PC surge

By Nico Grant for IOL

Dell Technologies and HP reported quarterly revenue that topped Wall Street estimates, lifted by customer upgrades of personal computers for remote work and school during the pandemic.

Dell’s sales climbed 2.8% to $23.5 billion in the period that ended Oct. 30, the Round Rock, Texas-based company said Tuesday in a statement. Rival HP reported it shipped a record 19 million PCs in its recent quarter, as well as more home printers than it has sold in years. HP also gave a profit forecast for the current period that beat analysts’ projections and said it would raise its quarterly dividend 10%.

Michael Dell and HP Chief Executive Officer Enrique Lores are trying to revamp their PC makers into more profitable businesses. Both companies have taken steps to cut operating expenses during the pandemic, and they produced better-than-projected profits in the October quarter. Billionaire Dell is trying to spur more predictable, recurring revenue by letting corporate clients pay for products over time rather than upfront. Lores, meanwhile, is overseeing a corporate restructuring that will result in lower expenses and a smaller workforce.

“We are very optimistic about where the company is going to be going during the next quarters and years,” Lores said in an interview.

HP shares gained about 5% in New York trading, helped by the company’s announcement that it would boost the quarterly dividend to 19.38 cents a share. Dell shares fell roughly 2%. The stock is up more than 30% so far this year.

HP’s revenue fell about 1% to $15.3 billion in the period that ended Oct. 31, the Palo Alto, California-based company said in a statement. Analysts, on average, expected $14.7 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Profit, excluding some items, was 62 cents a share in the fourth fiscal quarter, while analysts projected 52 cents.

Adjusted profit in the current quarter will be 64 cents to 70 cents a share, HP said. Analysts, on average, estimated 54 cents.

Dell’s sales from consumer PCs jumped 14% to $3.5 billion in the fiscal third quarter, the company said. PC sales to business and government clients increased 5.4% to $8.78 billion. Server and networking sales fell 1.8% to $4.16 billion, the seventh consecutive quarter of year-over-year declines for the unit. Executives said they expect continued “soft” data-center spending in the current period. Storage hardware revenue declined 7% to $3.86 billion.

“I’m generally pleased with how the business performed,” Dell Chief Financial Officer Tom Sweet said in an interview. “We’ve got to continue to work our way through the uncertain environment. Given our broad, diversified portfolio, we have an ability to drive a consistent stable cash flow, consistent results.”

Dell said that it expected revenue in the current period to increase 3% to 4% compared with the third quarter’s.

Sales of HP’s Personal Systems, mostly computers, was little changed from a year earlier at $10.4 billion. Revenue from consumers jumped 24% while business sales decreased 12%. Printing revenue declined 3% to $4.8 billion. The company reported a 21% rise in consumer hardware sales and a 22% drop in hardware revenue from businesses.

While corporate customers aren’t buying printers with their offices closed or at reduced capacity, Lores said demand from consumers working at home was so strong that HP shipped 12 million printers in the quarter — the highest number since the corporate split from Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co. in 2015.

The office of 2021

The coronavirus pandemic will have long-term effects on offices around the world, as the habits and routines developed over a century of work have seemingly vanished overnight.

“While the office has an important future, the 2021 version is likely to be markedly different: materials, layouts and even how we interact with it will all evolve,” says Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, one of South Africa’s largest workplace design specialists.

The office as a whole

Keeping the office as germ-free as possible will require material changes. Surfaces like unfinished wood, soft stone, and stainless steel can be breeding grounds for germs and bacteria and are on their way out.

“Offices might turn to furniture made of antimicrobial synthetic materials, plus metals like copper and brass for door handles and other high-touch surfaces.

Other touchpoints, like keypads and control panels for lighting, climate control, and AV systems, will likely be replaced with apps on employees’ phones,” Trim says.

Ultraviolet lights installed in ducts could purify air before it’s blown out onto the office floor. Architects might even make tweaks like curving the place where the floor meets the wall. This can eliminate corners that collect filth and germs, a practice that some hospitals have been using for decades.

Larger-scale changes may also be coming.

Says Trim: “With more employees working remotely, some desk space could be converted into more thoughtfully designed open spaces. And companies will certainly seek out offices with more access to outdoor space both as a means of social distancing and a way of making them more inviting to employees whose alternative is to stay home.”

From here on, the office will be purposely designed to be more than just a workplace, It will be a community place, a cultural place, a place of learning.

The workstation

For the sake of cleanliness, companies might have to reconsider the long-held tradition of assigned desks. Forcing employees to remove their belongings at the end of each day will allow for more effective cleanings that can’t happen when desks are covered with clutter.

“An alternative to that approach is to keep the dedicated work station but implement a ‘clean desk policy’: Each employee gets a cubby or locker in which to store things at the end of each workday, and desk surfaces are cleaned each night. The employee is then the only one in that space. There won’t be this introduction of another person sitting in that chair or touching those surfaces,” Trim said.

Adding more separation between workstations–something being done out of necessity in the short term, might become a long-term trend meant to give employees more privacy.

The remote-friendly workplace

“We’ve long advocated for choice in the office: you can sit in a lounge space or small huddle room or the outdoor patio, depending on what allows you to do your best work.”

Many more companies will update their office spaces so that the choice of workspace is not just a nice to have someday but it’s rather a must have soon. These changes will also be a major factor in businesses being able to attract and retain top talent.When we only come into the office a few days the quality at the office has to be exceptional. “It’s no longer about having just a gorgeous front entrance. It is now about giving your team the best facilities and environs for a great sense of purpose and that are better by degrees than what they can get at home, “ Trim concludes.

SA launches Covid-19 tracing app

Source: SA Coronavirus

South Africa’s COVID Alert SA app was released yesterday. Here’s all you need to know about SA’s new Bluetooth-based contact tracing app:

  • You can download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play. It’s under 3 MB in size
  • The app is free and does not feature in-app purchases.
  • You will not have to pay for mobile data when you use the app – the data to use the app has been zero-rated by all of South Africa’s mobile network providers

What is contact tracing?
Contact tracing is the process used by public health authorities to control the spread of epidemics and pandemics. It’s been integral to containing outbreaks such as that of the Ebola virus in 2014, of the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak, and of tuberculosis (TB) and other infectious diseases that are highly contagious.

Contact tracing means healthcare workers identifying and interviewing those who have contracted a disease to identify their ‘close contacts’ – those they have been in close proximity to in the recent past and therefore possibly infected as a result of their close contact.

Why do we need apps to assist with the contact tracing process?
Manual contact tracing is a time-consuming, process that has its limits. The person who tests positive for COVID-19 needs to remember all the people they have been in close contact with for the past two weeks and their contact details, which is not possible for people they come into contact with in public places such as the grocery store or public transport.

Bluetooth contact tracing apps, like COVID Alert SA, replace the need for us to remember and identify close contacts by simply letting app users’ smartphones “say hi” to each other and keep a record of every time this happens.

And, really importantly, every app-user’s identity is kept private at all times.

How the COVID Alert SA app allows for Bluetooth contact-tracing

  • COVID Alert SA app uses Bluetooth signals to exchange ‘random codes’ (these are just random numbers that change several times a day) with other COVID Alert SA app users. That’s how the phones “say hi” to each other.
  • This happens when app users’ smartphones are within two metres of each other for more than 15 minutes.
  • This process happens whether app users are near to people that they know – such as when near to friends, family or colleagues – and people that they aren’t acquainted with – such as at the shops in a queue, or on public transport.
  • As long as the COVID Alert SA app is running on smartphones that are near enough to each other, they will share random codes – saying “hi” and giving each other a digital handshake.
  • The random codes exchanged at the time of the ‘digital handshake’ are stored in a log on each phone for 16 days.
  • At no stage is the identity and location of the device users required for this exchange to happen. All that the COVID Alert SA app tracks is the proximity of smartphone devices to one another and how long they are in contact for.
  • Then, when an app user contracts COVID‑19 and a test shows they have the disease, they can choose to anonymously report this information to the app community. That kicks off the Bluetooth-based contact tracing process.
  • Their smartphone uploads the random codes that it has on record from the past 16 days to the Exposure Notification Server.
    The Server sends these random codes to all of other app users.
  • Each app user’s device runs through these random codes to check for a match between these codes and the codes it has stored in the past 16 days (every time it has come into contact with another device using the COVID Alert SA app).
  • If there is a match, the device notifies the user that there they have potentially been exposed to COVID‑19, with the date on which they were in contact with someone who has tested positive.
  • App users also receive information on what to do next to self-quarantine (for 14 days), watch for symptoms of COVID-19, and to optimise their health and wellbeing.
  • This all happens in a way that preserves the privacy of every app user at all times.

By joining other COVID Alert SA app users, we can work together to stay safe, save lives and turn the tide on COVID-19 in South Africa.

 

 

Source: The Peninsula

South Africa will launch clinical trials of a US-developed coronavirus vaccine with 2,900 volunteers this week, the second such study in the African country worst hit by the disease, lead investigator Shabir Madhi said Tuesday.

Known as NVX-CoV2373, the vaccine was developed by US biotech company Novavax from the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the COVID-19 disease.

It will be administered to the first volunteer in the randomised, observer-blinded trial on Wednesday.

“It’s a two-dose schedule, and they get two either vaccines or placebos… spaced three weeks apart,” professor Madhi of the Johannesburg-based University of the Witwatersrand (Wits), told AFP.

With 589 886 cases and 11 982 deaths, South Africa is fifth in global rankings for countries with the most infections.

Since the country also accounts for 20 percent of global HIV infections according to UNAIDS 2020 data, 240 medically stable, HIV-positive adults will also participate in the clinical trial.

“It’s critical that we understand how these vaccines work in populations that have HIV, especially in South Africa where they constitute up to about 12 to 15 percent of the adult population,” said Madhi.

Wits University said studies of the Novavax vaccine in non-human primates have shown protection against the coronavirus infection in nasal passages as well as protection against lung disease.

Partly funded by a $15-million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the trials are part of a larger study to be launched throughout the world to involve approximately 30,000 participants.

In June, South Africa piloted its first trial of a vaccine developed by the Britain-based Oxford Jenner Institute.

Some 2,000 people were injected with the vaccine known as ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 with 50 of the candidates having HIV.

Source: Pipe Drive

No matter the size of your organisation, it’s likely you’ve been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. It’s forced many of us to change the way we work and adapt to a sudden shift in consumer behaviour.

The COVID-19 outbreak showed us just how quickly life can change. One of the biggest impacts was made on the way we work, as well as the level and type of support our employees, customers and peers need from us.

Entire organisations have adopted remote working infrastructure at a rapid pace, ensuring those that have the ability to work from home can do so. Many were successful, while others are still overcoming teething pains.

So, what’s the best response to a crisis like this? How do we shift our behaviour and routines with minimal disruption?

In general, it’s great to have the tools and flexibility for remote working set up in your organisation, regardless of whether or not you will use them in your day-to-day. Having these infrastructures, technologies and processes in place is vital, especially when a major life event or public crisis keeps you or your team away from the office.

For example, sales teams must implement a stack that allows for both internal communication and reliable video calls with prospects.

Processes also need reviewing. What policies will you put in place to allow people to do their best work? For example, during the COVID-19 outbreak, many schools have been shut down. This means parents must strike a balance between work and looking after their children.

To respond to this, many organisations have adopted flexible working hours. As long as team members are available for two to three hours a day for communication, it doesn’t matter when they get their work done.

Audit the activities you conduct on a daily basis and see how you can optimise them for optimal remote working efficiency. Ask your team for their perspective, and allow them to contribute.

After all, these changes affect everyone in different ways. Take a dynamic approach and empower your team to perform to the best of their abilities.

Keeping your sales team safe, optimistic and productive
For salespeople used to the hustle and bustle of a lively office, the sudden change to remote working can be challenging. Not only do they need to find a new routine, but get a handle on new technologies for communication and collaboration.

This new, enforced way of working applies to sales managers, too. Your processes and training workflows must adapt; keeping salespeople motivated and engaged requires a different approach.

Making these changes doesn’t have to be daunting. As a sales leader, you have a responsibility to keep your team safe, create effective remote working policies and communicate them clearly.

Advise your team to follow their government’s guidelines and to do their best to stay out of harm’s way. You can help by ensuring they never need to break a recommended safety policy for work. This means implementing a 100% work from home policy, with guidance on how to maximiae productivity.

Luckily, getting your remote environment up and running is fast and simple.

Most importantly, expect pipeline volume to be volatile. Let your team know that this is OK and that you have a plan to weather the storm and come out stronger on the other side.

Reassuring customers and adjusting your sales messaging
Your customers will also feel the pain during times of crisis. Their priorities will shift, often overnight, as they face new and unexpected challenges.

As you help your team adjust to a new reality, no matter how temporary it may be, you must also do the same for your customers. The best philosophy to adopt? Serve first, then sell.

Yes, it’s important to continue closing deals. But there should also be a focus on helping customers and prospects that are facing new uncertainties in their lives.

For example, it’s wise to pause your cold email initiatives as a crisis breaks out. Standard messaging may seem tactless during this crisis. Instead, take this time to rework and re-frame your messaging to align with your customer’s most urgent needs.

But don’t leave them “on pause” forever. As people adjust, use that time to craft more value-driven and empathetic messaging. Once the workforce is more acclimated to this new reality, continue cold outreach initiatives with helpful content that customers and prospects can immediately benefit from.

It’s critical you communicate your company directives to your team. Make them aware that a new direction is necessary and outline a policy on what they should and shouldn’t be including in their messaging. Get them involved in the process so they not only have a sense of ownership, but also a duty to serve prospects.

Learn more about how to reassure customers and adjust your sales messaging in our guide here.

Managing your sales organisation during a health crisis
While cutting costs seems inevitable, it’s important that you continue executing revenue-generating activity.

We’ve identified three critical business-driven priorities for sales teams during this crisis:

  • Generate and communicate empathetic messaging to employees and your audience
  • Prevent pipeline decay
  • Identify new business opportunities
  • Depending on your industry, sales may drop. Adapting to sudden and temporary changes in consumer behaviour is an effective way to combat this. In the B2B world, your buyers will shift priorities to adapt and you must do the same.

Listen to and serve your existing prospects. How are they being affected by this health crisis and how can you help them beyond your sales processes? For example, if you usually share content with prospects, start collating timely information that impacts their industry and roles as it’s published from third party sources, and see if you can create or adapt your own.

New opportunities will also emerge. How can your product or solution serve your customers during this time? What features could be used to tackle these new challenges?

Capitalising on these opportunities requires a great deal of care and it can be tempting to jump toward discounting in order to tackle these issues. Resist this temptation and focus on how to best serve your customers instead.

Labour Law Advice has launched a Coronavirus Response Kit for the Workplace is a user-friendly, step-by step audio-video guide for employers and employees on:

• Corona relief benefit applications for employees
• Implementation of the numerous corona-related legal requirements
• Corona infection prevention mechanisms for the workplace, and
• A teamwork strategy for reducing the impact of coronavirus on business profits and jobs.

This audio-visual Kit can be used by employers to train their employees and:

• Provide them with the Knowledge necessary to deal with coronavirus
• Explain how to use their intelligence to apply this knowledge, and
• Show them how, through teamwork, staff and management can significantly reduce coronavirus’ damage to your business profits, jobs and salary payments.

The employees and profits of every business are being badly affected by the coronavirus. The more you help other businesses, the stronger will become the country’s economy on which your business and livelihood depends.

Please therefore inform everyone you can of this video guide which also makes a very valuable promotional gift for your clients and potential clients.

To watch a preview of this video guide and to find out how to acquire it, please visit this link.

By Aimee Pace for CapeTown ETC

Local company CapeBio is at the front line in the fight against coronavirus, leading the way with their new qPCR kits that are able to produce results in more than half the time of others.

Testing is critical in the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Led by Allan Gray Fellows Daniel Ndima and Dineo Lioma, CapeBio has answered the challenge with a kit providing results in just 65 minutes compared to other tests which take roughly three hours to produce results.

Faster testing times means that scientists and doctors will be able to conduct tests and assist patients more easily.

This is why the qPCR kits developed by CapeBio are hailed as a massive breakthrough, with critical implications for the country’s ability to weather the current crisis.

Daniel Ndima, CEO of CapeBio says, “The ability to obtain rapid test results allows us to gain a clearer picture of viral infections, so that we are able to introduce interventions with greater effectiveness.” This will remain important even after lockdown, as South Africa has a population of over 55-million people who will need to be monitored on an ongoing basis.

According to Ndima, CapeBio responded with their latest innovation after massive disruptions were experienced throughout South Africa as a result of the virus.

“One of our major challenges is our reliance on imported tests,” he explains. “Most countries are currently experiencing issues with supply and demand, which their respective governments are controlling with newly introduced trade regulations. This has caused delays in the delivery of imported testing kits and protective gears, and may impact on the delivery of vaccines once they have passed clinical trials.”

CapeBio has long had a reputation in their field for being reliable, innovative and resourceful. Their latest tests will assist in more accurately identifying the virus in a shorter time span.

“Our kits help pathologists isolate and identify a virus’s DNA or genetic material from an infected person. This makes it possible to detect the virus accurately in a laboratory.”

Validation by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority is still needed before they can be introduced to the broader user base, including private use and public labs.

“The tests still had to be reformulated, validated and certified by this body for diagnostics of other diseases caused by deadly pathogens such as HIV, TB, malaria and genetic related diseases,” Ndima informs. “We were looking into formulating our current products for these purposes, amongst others.”

As a locally manufactured product, the qPCR could mitigate this reliance on overseas imports, ensuring that testing reagents could be accessed quickly and without a wait. They are also more affordable than international products.

Source: CNBC Africa

South African insurance company Discovery and mobile operator Vodacom are teaming up to offer a free, online doctor consultation service to all South Africans with coronavirus-related concerns.

Discovery had already set up an online service for its own customers but had put it on ice due to a regulatory hold-up. Now it will be open for anyone.

The R20-million ($1.11-million) cost of the first 100 000 consultations will be split between the two companies. Doctors sign up to the service voluntarily, with more than 5 000 registered so far.

Vodacom will also provide free access to the platform via mobile data, but only with a Vodacom sim card, meaning users will have to already be a customer or sign up to Vodacom to access the service.

Discovery CEO Adrian Gore said there was no financial benefit to the insurer from the partnership, and it would not receive a share in any revenues Vodacom earned from new customers.

He added that sources of funding would have to be explored if the number of consultations went above 100,000.

Gore also told Reuters that the company was modelling the potential impact the coronavirus will have on claims, with its businesses in South Africa and Britain a focus.

“Covid-19 claims are certainly going to go up and we’re modelling that, but the cost of other health events are going down quite dramatically, people are not going for elective surgery, so there’s a bit of a counter balance,” he said.

There was also a much higher risk of mortality claims too, he continued, adding the insurer was “preparing carefully” for this outcome.

Source: SA Commercial Prop News

As South Africa goes into a 21-day nation-wide lockdown, The Foschini Group – whose brands include Foschini Stores, @home, Markham, Totalsports and Sterns – has said it will stop rental payments because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

This comes days after Edcon, SA’s second-biggest clothing retailer, said it may not be able to re-open after the 21-day lockdown.

The Foschini Group has 2 582 outlets across Africa which are now closed after President Cyril Ramaphosa ordered a three-week national shutdown from 27 March to combat the pandemic.

While essential services such as grocers, pharmacies, banks and gas stations are allowed to remain open, clothing retailers are not.

The Cape Town-based owner of Totalsports and American Swiss jewellery chains is also halting any planned expansion projects and will delay store refurbishments, TFG said in a letter to its landlords seen by Bloomberg and verified by the company.

“Once the situation normalises we will then be able to assess the full financial impact on the business and will engage with you further,” it said.

It is believer other retailers, big and small, are contemplating putting a stop to rental payments as business grinds to a halt.

Edcon, which had already been under financial strain, said what it’s experiencing is an indication of the challenge that many other businesses and the government will have to face after the shut down.

Although yet to recover from Edcon’s woes, retail landlords are set to face even more intense pressure as Walmart-owned Massmart announced recently the closure of 23 DionWired stores across the country.

TFG, which operates in South Africa, Australia and the UK, occupying space in major centres, went against the prevailing retail trend by producing positive trading updates in a difficult economy. The group pushed up turnover 5.9% for the nine months to 28 December 2019, compared to the corresponding period in 2018.

Coronavirus crisis in South Africa

As of Wednesday, South Africa has 1 353 cases with 5 fatalities.

Globally, coronavirus cases have reached 859 032 cases, with 42 322 deaths recorded.

South Africa is also facing additional headwinds after ratings firm Moody’s downgraded the country’s credit rating to below investment grade.

Moody’s downgraded South Africa’s long term foreign and local currency debt ratings from Baa3 to Ba1 with a negative outlook.

Source: eNCA

The Western Cape Health Department is appealing to the public to stop using gloves and masks. It warns these items have a risk of spreading coronavirus if not used properly.

The Head of the Western Cape Department of Health, Dr Beth Engelbrecht, says if a person is not ill and has not been in contact with infected persons they don’t need to wear masks and gloves.

“We saw that people are wearing masks and actually that could put them in more danger if they do.

If you wear a mask and you don’t need it then you fiddle with the mask all the time and you touch your face frequently and the face is the area where most of the infection gets through to the body so it puts you at risk,” said Dr Engelbrecht.

She said washing your hands with soap and water and ensuring you don’t touch your face is the best solution.

* This is a developing story and will be updated accordingly.

 

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