The Imperative for Data-Driven Enterprises: Integration and Automation

The Imperative for Data-Driven Enterprises: Integration and Automation

The Imperative for Data-Driven Enterprises: Integration and Automation

In today’s challenging economic landscape, gaining a competitive edge and optimising efficiency have become paramount for businesses. According to Oracle, enhancing application integration strategies is a top priority for chief operating officers in 2024.

The key to achieving this advantage lies in understanding automation and integration. While automation is a well-understood concept, integration may be less familiar. Integration involves connecting different apps and services within an organisation, as well as with third parties. It determines how effectively you can connect your apps and services to suppliers, customers, and partners.

Historically, large enterprises have had an upper hand, with budgets to afford expensive automation and integration tools that streamline operations. However, in recent years, we have witnessed a levelling of the playing field as these tools become more accessible to medium-sized businesses.

Quantifying the Risks

While the necessity for an integration and automation strategy may not be immediately apparent when starting a business, its importance becomes increasingly evident as the business scales.

Without integration, businesses risk delayed turnaround of processing information and high rates of data-related errors. This can negatively impact customer satisfaction and impede customer retention. As Forbes notes, retaining customers can mean the difference between going out of business or thriving.

Furthermore, as the business grows, a lack of integration can result in different departments losing sight of data sets. For example, the sales team may see one version of the data, while the finance team sees another. This lack of data parity can create a silo effect within the business, leading to poor decision-making at an organisational level.

Another risk without a well-crafted implementation strategy is that the business defaults to dealing with its data via hand-capture, which is slow and inaccurate; custom dev scripts, which fosters fragmentation; or citizen integration tools, which are often inflexible. Moreover, these tools often operate on a pay-as-you-go business model, making it more expensive to integrate as the business grows and requires more integration.

Mid-sized enterprises have previously found themselves caught between a rock and a hard place. They need implementation to streamline their business processes and keep up with the influx of data that characterises this era, while traditionally finding it too expensive to do so.

Fortunately, the growth of the cloud and cloud-based solutions like Flowgear has afforded them another option. Now, medium-sized businesses have access to a solution that had previously been reserved for the biggest enterprises with deep pockets, affordably.

Strategies for Integration

Even with implementation and automation solutions within reach, businesses still require a carefully thought-out implementation strategy.

What many don’t realise is that, like software, integration has a lifecycle.

While organisations need to move quickly with integrating their data, they then need to slow down on the changes they make. The reason being that a great deal of change will have a far-reaching impact, particularly as the business becomes more complex and has more data, apps, and services it needs to integrate.

Even so, businesses can’t really avoid making changes to their integration and automation entirely. Some triggers for change include business procedure changes, onboarding or offboarding of products they are selling, vendor API or product changes, or if there has been an acquisition or merger, and they need to consolidate their intellectual property.

What can make dealing with integration a great deal easier is starting on a firm footing. Even before choosing an integration platform, organisations would be well served by building a catalogue that documents all the apps and services in use within the organisation.

It can be immensely valuable to know, from the outset, the types of information to which each app is mapped. For example, being able to quantify which apps have customer data, whether the data set it refers to is updated daily, weekly or monthly, and which departments rely on those datasets all help greatly when it comes to prioritisation.

When considering one’s integration and automation strategy, it is also important to come to terms with the fact that no organisation will be 100% error-free. Rather, organisations should aim for their integration to have a 90 to 99% success rate. That remaining 10% to 1% respectively can still be dealt with by one’s personnel.

Getting Started

For those companies that are getting started with integration and automation, one of the first decisions mid-sized organisations need to make is whether they will go a self-service or outsourcing route, or a middle ground between the two.

“I cannot recommend that businesses try to run an integration and automation platform on their own if their IT department is already stretched to capacity. For them, outsourcing may be a better option. Alternatively, and one avenue I have seen many customers opt for, is the middle ground of co-building. This gives customers a level of independence while also enabling them to be steered through the intricacies of integrating and automating their business processes,” says Daniel Chilcott.

As with so many IT solutions, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all product when it comes to integration and automation. Essential as they are to a business’s success, they are not simple. While they do require a fair amount of planning and thought, the long-term benefits for business sustainability are well worth the effort.

Read next: Harnessing data for financial inclusion: Mukuru’s top insights

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Value trumps price in the quest for business success

Value trumps price in the quest for business success

Value trumps price in the quest for business success

In today’s fiercely competitive marketplace, where businesses and consumers alike are often lured by the siren call of a bargain, a seasoned industry executive cautions against prioritising price above all else. According to Warren Hawkins, Managing Director of Euphoria Telecom, the cornerstone of enduring business success lies in delivering genuine value, not just undercutting rivals on cost.

“The truth is that people will pay a higher price for something if they understand that they are getting value in return,” Hawkins asserts. This value, he explains, can manifest in myriad forms, encompassing product quality, operational efficiency, exemplary customer service, innovation, or even a favourable environmental impact.

Even during periods of economic uncertainty, when customers are particularly price-sensitive, Hawkins contends that there are instances where they are willing to pay a premium, provided they comprehend the rationale behind the pricing and perceive tangible value in key areas such as quality, flexibility, and customer service.

Quality, perhaps the most evident justification for a higher price tag, extends beyond mere physical products to encompass services as well. Hawkins offers the example of a business choosing between two communications providers, where a cursory comparison of monthly fees alone might lead to selecting the cheaper option. However, a more thorough evaluation could reveal that the pricier system boasts features that enhance productivity or provides insightful data and analytics to inform business decisions. Thus, while the offering itself is more expensive, it delivers real value through its performance.

Flexibility, too, is a highly prized attribute that customers are often willing to pay a premium for. Hawkins illustrates this point with the scenario of a business locked into a fixed-term contract with a service provider, only to unexpectedly scale down operations, leaving them paying for unutilised services. In such cases, the flexibility of a month-to-month contract or the ability to readily scale services up or down can be invaluable.

Customer service, however, emerges as the paramount factor in a retailer’s success, according to a recent survey of South Africa’s online retail space, with a staggering 73.9% of respondents emphasising its importance. Hawkins posits that the most revered companies for service excellence share common traits: knowledgeable and professional staff, clear and responsive communication, personalised approaches, and seamless processes.

Customers, he asserts, crave the assurance that their needs are not only met but anticipated, and that any requests or issues will be promptly and supportively addressed. Businesses that excel in these areas engender customer loyalty and a willingness to pay a premium for superior service.

Ultimately, Hawkins contends that by delivering on these three pillars – quality, flexibility, and customer service – businesses can demonstrate to customers that they are receiving a superior product or service, tailored to their needs and backed by service excellence. When these boxes are ticked, customers become not only more amenable to paying higher prices but also more likely to remain steadfastly loyal to the brand – the true hallmark of sustainable business success.

Read next: Xero unveils AI assistant to revolutionise small business accounting

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Axis sets ambitious carbon reduction targets

Axis sets ambitious carbon reduction targets

Axis sets ambitious carbon reduction targets

Axis Communications AB, a leading provider of network video solutions, has set ambitious near-term targets to reduce its global greenhouse gas emissions. These targets have been validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi), a collaboration between influential organisations focused on accelerating corporate climate action.

Under the approved targets, Axis has committed to reducing its absolute scope 1 and 2 emissions – those generated directly and indirectly by its operations – by 42% by 2030, using 2022 as the base year. Additionally, the company pledges to cut scope 3 emissions from purchased goods and services, upstream transportation and distribution, and the use of its sold products by an impressive 51.6% per unit sold within the same timeframe.

Carl Trotzig, Director of Environment & Supply Chain Sustainability at Axis, emphasised the company’s long-standing commitment to minimising its environmental impact across the entire value chain. “Taking a science-based approach fits with our ethos, and having our targets validated by the SBTi only adds more momentum to our efforts,” he said.

The targets align with the Paris Agreement’s goal of limiting global warming to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5°C. Axis joins over 5,000 organisations worldwide supporting science-based targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions.

To achieve its scope 1 and 2 targets, Axis is reviewing energy provider contracts globally to prioritise fossil-free sources and transitioning its vehicle fleets to electric vehicles. However, the company recognises that scope 3 emissions, which encompass the entire value chain, represent the largest source of emissions.

“Reducing the emissions associated with the lifetime use of Axis products will be a priority,” Trotzig explained. “We’ve already introduced features to help customers better manage and optimise the energy use of our cameras, but we will also take a whole system perspective, including the impact of data centers and cloud-based services.”

Additional focus areas for scope 3 emission reductions include component and product manufacturing, as well as transportation. Axis plans to drive the adoption of fossil-free energy sources in manufacturing and further regionalise its supply chain to minimise transportation requirements.

The company’s commitment to meeting science-based emission reduction targets reflects its ongoing efforts to reduce the environmental impact of its operations and upstream and downstream value chains. These efforts are aligned with three pillars: beating climate change, protecting natural resources, and safeguarding ecosystems.

As businesses face increasing pressure to address their environmental footprints, Axis’s science-based targets demonstrate a proactive approach to tackling emissions across its value chain, setting an example for others in the industry to follow.

Read next: AfricArena celebrates sustainability and climate pioneers

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Ticketmaster suffers massive data breach

Ticketmaster suffers massive data breach

Ticketmaster suffers massive data breach

Ticketmaster, the world’s leading online ticketing platform owned by Live Nation, has been dealt a severe blow as a group of hackers called ShinyHunters claims to have stolen the personal details of some 560 million customers globally. The stolen data trove reportedly includes names, addresses, phone numbers, and partial credit card information.

The cybercriminals are now demanding a ransom payment of $500,000 to prevent the data from being sold on the dark web, a shadowy corner of the internet where illegal goods and services are traded.

Anna Collard, SVP Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa, a cybersecurity firm, expressed concern over the magnitude of the breach. “The extent of the data accessed by the cyber criminals remains uncertain at this point. As Ticketmaster is a leading online ticketing platform worldwide, anyone who has ever bought a ticket on Ticketmaster should remain vigilant,” she cautioned.

The Ticketmaster breach has been linked to attacks against its cloud provider Snowflake, which has affected at least six companies so far, including the financial services giant Santander.

Ms. Collard advised customers to monitor their credit card accounts closely and change passwords if they were used elsewhere. She also recommended enabling multi-factor authentication where possible to enhance account security.

“Watch out for bogus emails, messages, and phone calls,” she warned. “Cybercriminals often use the information they have to deceive victims into sharing more personal details. Some scammers may take advantage of the fear caused by a hack to manipulate you into providing more information.”

Ticketmaster customers are advised to only react to official communication from the company’s official websites, or, and to be wary of unsolicited messages or emails demanding immediate action.

The breach has far-reaching implications, as Ticketmaster handles ticket sales for high-profile events worldwide, including the upcoming concerts of Roxette, Andrea Bocelli, and the Rugby Championship Test between the Springboks and All Blacks in September.

Read next: Bridging the Cybersecurity Disconnect Between Boards and CISOs

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AI Healthcare Innovators from Africa Join Google’s Prestigious Accelerator

AI Healthcare Innovators from Africa Join Google’s Prestigious Accelerator

AI Healthcare Innovators from Africa Join Google’s Prestigious Accelerator

Google for Startups has unveiled its latest cohort for the prestigious Growth Academy: AI for Health program. Among the 24 startups selected from across Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) are several trailblazing firms from the African continent, tackling critical healthcare challenges with innovative AI-driven solutions.

South Africa’s Zoie Health, a digital health platform striving to provide affordable and accessible healthcare to underserved populations, has secured a coveted spot in the program. Also joining the ranks are:

  • Aide (United Kingdom) is a digital service that helps patients and clinicians better understand and manage chronic disease, specifically comorbidity.

  • AmplifAI (Saudi Arabia) combines AI driven thermography and computer vision to create a standardised and objective assessment for diabetic foot ulcers.

  • Biorce (Portugal) is developing solutions to enhance clinical trials through the power of AI, having created Jarvis, a clinical AI assistant.

  • C the Signs (United Kingdom) is an AI cancer prediction platform that helps identify patients at risk of cancer at its earliest and most curable stages.

  • Callyope (France) develops speech-based remote patient monitoring solutions that help caretakers assess treatment efficacy and detect relapses in serious mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.

  • (Netherlands) works to reverse diabetes type 2 by precision nutrition, providing best in class digital therapeutic based on real-time glucometry.

  • Ephion Health (Spain) develops digital biomarkers to ensure accurate disease monitoring and therapy assessment, through wearables data, clinical reports and AI for precise patient assessment.

  • Exakt Health (Germany) is a certified medical app for physiotherapy and evidence-based training with hyper-personalised treatment plans.

  • FiveLives (France) is a digital brain health platform for people aged 50+ to take control of their cognitive health, through combining clinically-validated brain health assessment and an engaging coaching program.

  • Healthtracka (Nigeria) is decentralising access to healthcare in Africa through remote medical diagnostics, connecting users with a seamless way to access at-home lab tests, receive clear results and doctors consultations.

  • HearMe (Poland) supports employees’ mental health through anonymous and secure 1:1 sessions with mental health professionals.

  • Juniver (United Kingdom) delivers on-demand help for eating disorders, with AI-powered interventions for urges, evidence-based education, personalised tools, peer support and telemedicine.

  • Mindgram (Poland) is a platform offering a holistic solution providing employees and their relatives with psychological and self-development support around the clock.

  • Motherbeing (Egypt) is a digital solution dedicated to Arab women’s sexual and reproductive health. The platform connects users with doctors, experts, personalised health education and an AI-powered health assistant.

  • Noah Labs (Germany) develops a voice-based machine learning software for the early detection of decompensated heart failure.

  • Nui (Germany) is an app providing family caregivers with support through an intelligent chatbot that provides guidance to find answers to the most pressing questions.

  • O7 Therapy (Egypt) bridges the treatment gap with cutting-edge tech and top-tier mental health professionals. The O7 Therapy app offers instant, anonymous support via encrypted Chat, Audio and Video Sessions.

  • Powerful Medical (Slovakia) revolutionises cardiovascular diagnostics with its AI-driven platform, enabling healthcare professionals across the EU and beyond to diagnose and manage 39 cardiovascular conditions.

  • Research Grid (United Kingdom) is an automation engine enabling faster, more successful clinical trials by engineering smart software that safely automates back office admin across the full lifecycle.

  • Rofim (France) specialises in developing telemedicine software. The Rofim platform is a telemedicine platform designed to connect patients with healthcare professionals, enable diagnosis and improve access to care.

  • SYCAI Medical (Spain) develops medical device software with the aim of preventing the appearance of cancer in the abdomen non-invasively.

  • Thalia Psychotherapy (Kenya) is a mental health startup focused on integrating mental health services into primary healthcare systems.

  • TibuHealth (Kenya) delivers affordable outpatient services via “minute clinics” in partner pharmacies in high-density neighbourhoods.

“We are committed to supporting the growth of innovative startups, particularly those that are leveraging AI to address critical healthcare challenges,” said Dorothy Ooko, Head of Communications and Public Affairs at Google Africa. “The Growth Academy: AI for Health program is a testament to this commitment, and we are excited to see the impact these startups will have on the future of healthcare.”

The three-month program promises an immersive experience for participants, offering intensive training, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Workshops will cover best practices for AI, leadership development, responsible innovation, product design, and customer acquisition. Additionally, Google experts from various domains, including Research, Health, Verily, Fitbit, and DeepMind, will provide one-on-one mentorship sessions and technical project support.

The selection of these African startups underscores the continent’s burgeoning potential in the realm of AI-driven healthcare solutions. According to the World Health Organization, more than 116 million people across Africa were already estimated to be living with mental health conditions pre-pandemic, with a critical shortage of mental health workers. Initiatives like Thalia Psychotherapy’s AI-powered chatbot aim to bridge this gap, increasing access to mental health support in underserved regions.

Similarly, TibuHealth’s “minute clinics” in partner pharmacies across high-density neighbourhoods in Kenya are delivering affordable outpatient services, addressing the pressing need for accessible healthcare.

As the Growth Academy: AI for Health program commences, the participating startups from across EMEA will embark on a transformative journey, leveraging AI to revolutionise patient care, advance medical research, and shape the future of healthcare delivery.

Read next: Zoie Health closes pre-seed round to fund expansion and growth

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Revolutionising mobile money and fintech in Africa

Revolutionising mobile money and fintech in Africa

Revolutionising mobile money and fintech in Africa

As mobile money continues to reshape the financial landscape in Africa, telcos find themselves at the forefront of this transformative shift. In a candid interview, Robert van Breukelen, CEO of Itemate Solutions, shared his insights on the evolving role of telcos in the fintech sphere, the challenges they face, and the future of mobile financial services on the continent.

Itemate Solutions, a company that initially focused on inventory management for telcos, has evolved alongside the industry, recognising the need for comprehensive solutions to cater to the growing demands of customers. Van Breukelen’s extensive experience in the sector has given him a unique vantage point from which to observe and analyse the trends shaping the future of fintech in Africa.

One of the key challenges Van Breukelen highlighted was the management of inactive SIM cards and the potential for recycling-related issues. “Telcos have had to become very sophisticated in terms of ensuring that they do not recycle numbers that are not making voice calls or SMS that could be used for other purposes,” he explained. To address this, Itemate Solutions developed a bespoke number management solution, ensuring that every number is accurately mapped and adheres to a configurable set of rules before being recycled.

The evolution of mobile money has been a focal point in the conversation, with Van Breukelen acknowledging the successes and failures experienced by various telcos in their attempts to replicate the success of M-Pesa in Kenya. “Mobile money is very interesting,” he said, pointing out that even before the concept emerged, people were already trading in airtime as a form of electronic currency.

However, the opportunities for telcos extend beyond mobile money. Van Breukelen emphasised the need for partnerships and collaborations with banks, governments, and other stakeholders to provide comprehensive financial services to the unbanked population. “I would rather see partnerships than banks and telcos competing for that next level of customers,” he stated.

Digital literacy and education emerged as a crucial aspect in fostering trust and promoting the adoption of these technologies. Van Breukelen acknowledged the challenges faced by telcos in building awareness and educating the public, particularly in rural areas where access to information and infrastructure is limited.

Looking ahead, Van Breukelen envisions a future where mobile financial services, mobile health, and mobile education become more accessible to communities across Africa. “I do really think MTN’s objective of 100 million mobile financial services customers, that’s fantastic,” he said, “but again, I think those are your people who already have access to smartphones, the same smartphones they’ve been using mobile services for a while and they’ve taken them to the next level.”

Ultimately, the success of telcos in the fintech space will depend on their ability to navigate the complexities of the ecosystem, forge strategic partnerships, and prioritise the needs of underserved communities. As technology continues to evolve, companies like Itemate Solutions will play a pivotal role in enabling telcos to expand their reach, improve customer experiences, and drive financial inclusion across the continent.

Read next: Africa’s fintech boom: fastest-growing region

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IBM bets on AI to drive business transformation

IBM bets on AI to drive business transformation

IBM bets on AI to drive business transformation

At GITEX Africa 2024 in Morocco, a senior IBM executive made a full-throated case for companies to embrace artificial intelligence or risk being left behind by competitors.

Saad Toma, general manager of IBM’s Middle East and Africa operations, said in a keynote speech that three-quarters of global chief executives believe “the organisation with the most advanced generative AI will have the ultimate advantage.” He cited an IBM report that found 43% of CEOs plan to use the emerging technology to inform strategic decisions.

Mr. Toma’s remarks underscored IBM’s multibillion-dollar bet that artificial intelligence will profoundly reshape how companies operate and create new lines of business. The Armonk, N.Y., tech giant is pushing a platform called watsonx that allows corporate customers to develop and deploy AI models.

“To overcome these challenges, organisations must move to an AI-first approach, where AI is integrated into their business strategy across the lifecycle,” Mr. Toma said of barriers to AI adoption that include high costs and shortages of AI skills.

While many African firms have been slow to embrace AI, about half of the region’s CEOs expect to realise significant value from advanced AI and data analytics, according to IBM’s research.

Generative AI—tech that can create text, imagery, videos and computer code on command—captured public attention in 2022 and is now seeping into corporate settings. Businesses are experimenting with the nascent technology to increase workforce productivity. The World Economic Forum has projected AI could create $16 trillion of value worldwide by 2030.

At its annual Think conference earlier this year, IBM launched several open-source AI tools and initiatives to spur adoption of the technology, including a project called InstructLab in partnership with open-source software firm Red Hat Inc.

The efforts allow organisations to create customised AI models for use cases such as predictive maintenance and sustainable supply chains, IBM says. In Kenya, for instance, the government is working with IBM’s geospatial AI models to visualise and track tree planting activities as part of a reforestation program.

However, many enterprises have struggled to implement AI due to challenges such as soaring technology costs, talent shortages and concerns over ethical AI use. Mr. Toma said robust data governance programs and collaborations with AI services providers are critical for businesses to successfully deploy the emerging technology.

Read next: AI unlocks $15.7 Trillion opportunity, but hurdles await Africa

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Virtual and Augmented Reality: The New Reality of Betting

Virtual and Augmented Reality: The New Reality of Betting

Virtual and Augmented Reality: The New Reality of Betting

Imagine being able to visit Madrid tomorrow without leaving your sofa. All you have to do is put on a VR helmet. Suddenly you’re standing in the centre of Santiago Bernabéu and can almost smell the freshly mown lawn. The stadium sounds resound and you’re completely immersed in the virtual experience. But this isn’t just a simulation – you can also bet on the outcome of the match with your friends!

A new world of entertainment and betting

Virtual reality has gone mainstream and the possibilities seem endless. Even some slots offer that option to the players, so check the reviews and play your favorite games in the trusted betway casino if you want to spend some fun time. In this article, we challenge the boundaries between entertainment and betting. What happens when these two worlds merge into one overwhelming and immersive experience?

Welcome to the metaverse of betting: The latest advances

When virtual reality first saw the light of day, it was primarily a tool for video games. But as the technology has matured, the possibilities for creating entirely new experiences in a virtual world have taken hold.

Not least in the world of sports, VR has already made its entrance. Take, for example, Kentucky Derby experiment. There some of the selected viewers could virtually sit in the saddle of a gallop horse and experience all the excitement and drama that unfolds during the Derby. All in the comfort of virtual reality surroundings – no horses get hurt.

Augmented reality adds an extra layer of reality

While virtual reality allows you to step into a whole new reality, augmented reality adds extra layers on top of the world you’re already in. AR can therefore display virtual elements such as statistics, odds or half-time scores projected into your own life.

An obvious example is if you are standing in Old Trafford watching Manchester United play Chelsea in 3D augmented reality. While following the match, real-time odds are displayed in your field of view. You can bet virtually on which player will score the next goal with a simple flick of the wrist.

Blurring the line between entertainment and betting

As you can sense, technology is knocking on the door of the betting industry these days. Virtual reality and augmented reality are creating a seamless experience of entertainment and gambling.

While most bookmakers today operate online or physically in the real world, in the future VR and AR could change the total experience. With this era of immersive technology, betting can increasingly become more of a total entertainment experience than a viewing experience.

Of course, there are both benefits and potential challenges at stake. But one thing is for sure: your betting experience is guaranteed to look completely different in a few years.

Fantasy vs. reality?

But first: isn’t all this talk of virtual stadiums and betting experiences just science fiction? Although the existing solutions are still relatively simple, there is already extensive development work going on in this area.

On a slightly more down-to-earth level, you can now also experience certain boxing and wrestling matches in virtual reality. The experience is becoming more polished and immersive with each passing season.

The disruptive potential of technology

Like most other industries, the betting industry will eventually have to deal with the disruptive power of technology. Should you welcome new, innovative and immersive opportunities such as VR and AR – or stick with familiar formats?

As technology becomes more perfected, both its benefits and complications become more apparent. On the one hand, the betting experience risks becoming more engaging and immersive than ever before when combined with future entertainment options. On the other hand, it can also lead to unhelpful habits that suck up all our time and energy.

Ethics, accountability and regulation

In addition to the personal consequences, there are of course larger ethical questions that arise in the wake of new technology. How can we ensure accountability and fair play in the virtual world? Regulators around the world are likely to be concerned about how betting in the metaverse could potentially become even harder to control and potentially open up new forms of cheating and undue influence.

As the boundaries between betting and entertainment become increasingly blurred, legislation must also be rethought. New safeguards need to be put in place to ensure that no one is harmed.

Technology is here to stay

Whatever the future holds, one thing is almost certain: Virtual reality and augmented reality are not going away. The possibilities are too great and the potential too overwhelming to let them gather dust on the technology shelf.

It will be exciting to see how these new digital experiences will have more and more impact on every aspect of our lives in the coming years. Including gambling and entertainment.

Your betting experience in 5 years is likely to be a world away from the one you know today. Rejoice – or fear it! The future will soon be knocking on your door.

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Google Unveils Umoja Cable, Bolstering Africa’s Digital Connectivity

Google Unveils Umoja Cable, Bolstering Africa’s Digital Connectivity

Google Unveils Umoja Cable, Bolstering Africa’s Digital Connectivity

Google has announced the launch of Umoja, an ambitious fibre optic cable project that will directly link the continent with Australia for the first time.

The Umoja cable route, anchored in Kenya, is set to traverse through Uganda, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, including the Google Cloud region, before spanning the Indian Ocean to reach Australia. This terrestrial path has been meticulously designed in collaboration with Liquid Technologies, a leading digital infrastructure provider, to form a highly scalable network with access points that will enable other African nations to leverage this cutting-edge connectivity.

Derived from the Swahili word for “unity,” Umoja represents a significant stride towards enhancing Africa’s digital infrastructure resilience and fostering economic opportunities through reliable internet access. Alongside the previously announced Equiano cable, Umoja falls under the broader Africa Connect initiative, a strategic endeavour aimed at empowering African countries to establish more robust digital connections among themselves and with the rest of the world.

“Access to the latest technology, supported by reliable and resilient digital infrastructure, is critical to growing economic opportunity,” said Meg Whitman, the U.S. Ambassador to Kenya. “This is a meaningful moment for Kenya’s digital transformation journey, and the benefits of today’s announcement will cascade across the region.”

President William Ruto of Kenya echoed similar sentiments, commending Google’s investment in digital connectivity as a “historic milestone” that will significantly enhance the region’s global and regional digital infrastructure. He emphasised the initiative’s crucial role in ensuring redundancy, resilience, and increased digital inclusion, ultimately paving the way for innovation and economic opportunities.

“I am delighted to welcome Google’s investment in digital connectivity, marking a historic milestone for Kenya, Africa, and Australia,” President Ruto said. “The new intercontinental fibre optic route will significantly enhance our global and regional digital infrastructure. This initiative is crucial in ensuring the redundancy and resilience of our region’s connectivity to the rest of the world, especially in light of recent disruptions caused by cuts to sub-sea cables. By strengthening our digital backbone, we are not only improving reliability but also paving the way for increased digital inclusion, innovation, and economic opportunities for our people and businesses.”

Strive Masiyiwa, the Chairman and founder of Liquid Technologies, underscored the transformative impact of Umoja, stating that major African cities will no longer be “hard-to-reach endpoints remote from the coastal landing sites.” Instead, they will become stations on a “data superhighway” capable of carrying vast amounts of traffic, bridging the digital divide.

“Africa’s major cities including Nairobi, Kampala, Kigali, Lubumbashi, Lusaka, and Harare will no longer be hard-to-reach endpoints remote from the coastal landing sites that connect Africa to the world,” Mr. Masiyiwa said. “They are now stations on a data superhighway that can carry thousands of times more traffic than currently reaches here. I am proud that this project helps us deliver a digitally connected future that leaves no African behind, regardless of how far they are from the technology centres of the world.”

Extending beyond the infrastructure announcement, Google has also signed a Statement of Collaboration with Kenya’s Ministry of Information Communications and The Digital Economy. This collaboration aims to accelerate joint efforts in cybersecurity, data-driven innovation, digital upskilling, and the responsible and safe deployment of AI for societal benefits.

As part of this collaboration, Google Cloud and Kenya are exploring ways to strengthen the country’s cybersecurity posture, with the Department of Immigration & Citizen Services evaluating Google Cloud’s CyberShield solution and Mandiant expertise to fortify the defense of its eCitizen platform.

Google’s long-standing commitment to Africa’s digital transformation is further underscored by its $1 billion investment pledge over five years, supporting various initiatives ranging from improved connectivity to startup investments. To date, Google has invested over $900 million in the region, with expectations to fulfil its commitment by 2026.

With the Umoja cable poised to unlock new frontiers of digital connectivity and economic growth across Africa, Google’s strategic partnership with African nations signifies a significant step towards a more digitally unified and prosperous future for the continent.

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BDO Elevates Female Leaders in Technology, Media, and Telecoms Sector

BDO Elevates Female Leaders in Technology, Media, and Telecoms Sector

BDO Elevates Female Leaders in Technology, Media, and Telecoms Sector

BDO South Africa has announced the strategic appointments of Donvé Forbes and Linda Peter as sub-sector leads within its Technology, Media, and Telecoms (TMT) division.

Forbes, currently a Partner in Audit, will take on the role of Media Lead. Her journey at BDO, which began as an article clerk in 2008 and culminated in her appointment as Partner in 2016, is a testament to her dedication and expertise. With a diverse client portfolio spanning retail, media, technology, and advertising, Forbes has established herself as a trusted advisor in the audit domain.

Her extensive experience in both traditional and digital media uniquely positions her to drive BDO’s media sector expertise, including expansion into the UK market. “Donvé has already been extensively involved in the media and digital sectors within our client portfolios in SA. And now that role will be expanding to include the UK market, a massive growing segment — which she’s well suited for, given her deep skills,” said Bernard van der Walt, Head of TMT at BDO SA.

Meanwhile, Linda Peter, currently Director of International Tax and Mergers and Acquisition within the Tax team, will assume the role of Technology Lead in the TMT sector. With a wealth of experience in corporate and international tax matters, including due diligence, mergers and acquisitions, and corporate restructurings, Peter brings a unique blend of expertise to her expanded mandate. Her proactive approach and demonstrable leadership make her the ideal candidate to spearhead BDO’s technology initiatives within the TMT sector.

“Linda has the TMT experience but also the leadership and proactive drive needed to lead the Technology sub-sector as we continue to innovate in this dynamic environment,” said van der Walt.

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