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Cloud Innovation is here….Are you ready?

Thato M. Jordan

There has been a significant adoption and growth of cloud computing in Botswana and the world at large. This adoption is embraced by all business sectors from Small and Medium Enterprises to giants of the industry.

According to Doherty and Conway (2014) in their research titled “The adoption of cloud computing by Irish SMES – an exploratory study” they advise that cloud technology market has been estimated to significantly grow in the next coming years with financial growth projection of up to $241 billion by 2020. This market growth findings concurs with other IT research institutes such as the Gartner and the 451 group.

Each organization has different reasons for this adoption ranging from the perceived cost reduction, speed to market, workers mobility, consolidation, business continuity and outsourcing of services just to name a few. In order to effectively and efficiently adopt cloud services each organization needs to access its readiness. Before progressing any further into the organizational assessment needs and how to prepare for the cloud adoption we need to touch base on the services offered on this magnificent technology. We have two main types or options of the cloud, being public and private cloud.

Private cloud is built exclusively for an individual organization and remains in the control of that organization while the public clouds is owned and operated by cloud service providers mainly outside the premises of the organization with less or no control of the individual or organization. Organizations using public cloud share the resources (servers, storage, applications etc.) with others while private cloud resources are dedicated to individual organizations.

Notwithstanding this, private cloud services might be offered centrally in the organization’s premises or they may be externally hosted. Adoption of either of the two is always driven by different reasons ranging from security to cost considerations and business continuity as mentioned earlier.  Most organizations prefer the private cloud approach built centrally on their premises be it in-country or regionally with some organizations deploying a hybrid of the two. Both private and public cloud offer three main services, Platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), and Software-as-service (SaaS).

PaaS refers to the cloud service provider rendering rented service platform that encompasses both hardware and software tools mostly to aid the needs of developing and hosting application. As for the IaaS, only the infrastructure equipment or hardware is rented and hosted from cloud service providers and organizations application installed and hosted in them. For the SaaS, the software or applications are rented or licensed on pay per use basis and these are centrally hosted in the public or private cloud.

In an article that appeared in the press last week the decision points in adoption of the cloud technology was advised with focus placed on the organizational readiness and its environment as well as the role of Information Technology Department in this transition. Change is inevitable and it invariably presents challenges and opportunities. The IT Department must transform its role in line with the trending cloud technology and its development in order to remain relevant in a fast changing IT environment.  

It is incumbent upon each IT professional to keep abreast with the ever changing technology if they are to remain relevant. These ethos are inherent to the professional code of conduct of IT practitioners and professionals as technological change in IT is constantly and rapidly evolving. It is a fallacy that an increasing number of organizations believe that the more they outsource their IT services or adopt cloud technologies the less they will be dependent on the enterprise of an IT Department. Many practitioners have been laid off at the behest of these misconceptions. However contrary to this believe more specialized roles and realignment is required with more emphasis on the security and governance.  The role of the IT Department in this realignment can never be underestimated.

From a legislative point of view, Botswana has progressed significantly well in aligning its laws to the changing technology as evidenced by the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act, Cybercrime and Computer Related Act as well as the Electronic Records (Evidence) Act. The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act recognizes and validates electronic commercial transactions, while the Electronic Records (Evidence) Act recognizes and regulates electronic evidence and the Cybercrime and Computer Related Crimes deals specifically with crime related to the misuse of technology and its use outside the precincts of the law.

Botswana is part of the global community and must continuously work towards being at par with developments in the rest of the world. Technological issues are not peculiar to individual countries and it is imperative that Botswana’s IT legal framework must be aligned to those of the rest of the world to ensure that it remains relevant and fit for purpose.

Just this week we woke up to news that UK has committed £1.9 Billion to National Cyber Security Strategy for the next five years. Such huge expenditure is disproportionate to what Botswana spends in such matters and indicative of the massive spadework we still have to put in to raise our bar as a country. In short, companies have their work cut out for them to develop their policies, procedures and standards with regard to cloud adoption. These must be advised by the organizational strategy and the legislative framework for IT services.

The Head of Information Technology sometimes regarded as the Chief Information Officer should be at the forefront of emerging trends in cloud computing and advocating for the development of these policies and procedures as well as soliciting buy-in from other executives to ensure full implementation of these within an organization.

Cloud technology and other agile technology changes have changed the roles and duties of IT personnel significantly therefore individuals working in this department must be alive to the evolving terrain in the sector and continuously upskill themselves to remain relevant. Changes in this sector are rapid and gone are the days where one could assume they are a guru in this or that application.

Gone too are the days where one considered themselves the know-it-all wise guy in the field who impeded any change that threatened to displace him or her from their comfort zone. In a rapidly changing world, IT professionals must adapt or either swim or sink. IT practitioners must assume their rightful role at the forefront of technological change as facilitators of new technologies such as cloud computing. Failure to do so renders them redundant.   

Word of advice to IT practitioners is that it is entirely upon them to remain relevant in their chosen professional field, transform from being just a support personnel to being a business enabler. The IT practitioner’s role is transitioning to security and governance role where once services are outsourced or hosted on a cloud somewhere else, they need to periodically review security compliance, Service Level Agreements (SLA’s) and system logs in addition to their daily duties of ensuring there is no breach.

The IT practitioner’s role now requires them to protect the company’s most sort after assert being data. According to an IBM-sponsored study by the Ponemon Institute average cost of a data breach to companies has risen to $4 Million in recent times highlighting the importance of bridging this loophole. As custodians of data, it is the IT practitioner’s role to plug this gap as studies show that very few companies or organizations survive after these breaches and should such a scenario arise, it is the IT practitioner who is liable.

In conclusion I would like to state that cloud innovation is here, are you ready? Please also know that adoption of cloud technology is not an individual decision but an organizational one. It is important for organisations to develop policies, standards, procedures and strategies for this adoption. Once these are in place the organization can successfully implement and reap the fruits of the cloud.

At Botswana Innovation Hub we advocate for the adoption of technologies that improve output and enhance the quality of life and as a parting shot I would like to once again say, cloud innovation is here, are you ready? This is synonymous with our motto at Botswana Innovation Hub, Innovation is here….. Come and join us.

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Export Processing Zones: How to Get SEZA to Sizzle

23rd September 2020
Export Processing Zone (EPZ) factory in Kenya

In 2005, the Business & Economic Advisory Council (BEAC) pitched the idea of the establishment of Special Economic Zones (SEZs) to the Mogae Administration.

It took five years before the SEZ policy was formulated, another five years before the relevant law was enacted, and a full three years before the Special Economic Zones Authority (SEZA) became operational.

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Egypt Bagged Again

23rd September 2020

… courtesy of infiltration stratagem by Jehovah-Enlil’s clan

With the passing of Joshua’s generation, General Atiku, the promised peace and prosperity of a land flowing with milk and honey disappeared, giving way to chaos and confusion.

Maybe Joshua himself was to blame for this shambolic state of affairs. He had failed to mentor a successor in the manner Moses had mentored him. He had left the nation without a central government or a human head of state but as a confederacy of twelve independent tribes without any unifying force except their Anunnaki gods.

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23rd September 2020

If I say the word ‘robot’ to you,  I can guess what would immediately spring to mind –  a cute little Android or animal-like creature with human or pet animal characteristics and a ‘heart’, that is to say to say a battery, of gold, the sort we’ve all seen in various movies and  tv shows.  Think R2D2 or 3CPO in Star Wars, Wall-E in the movie of the same name,  Sonny in I Robot, loveable rogue Bender in Futurama,  Johnny 5 in Short Circuit…

Of course there are the evil ones too, the sort that want to rise up and eliminate us  inferior humans – Roy Batty in Blade Runner, Schwarzenegger’s T-800 in The Terminator,  Box in Logan’s Run,  Police robots in Elysium and  Otomo in Robocop.

And that’s to name but a few.  As a general rule of thumb, the closer the robot is to human form, the more dangerous it is and of course the ultimate threat in any Sci-Fi movie is that the robots will turn the tables and become the masters, not the mechanical slaves.  And whilst we are in reality a long way from robotic domination, there are an increasing number of examples of  robotics in the workplace.

ROBOT BLOODHOUNDS Sometimes by the time that one of us smells something the damage has already begun – the smell of burning rubber or even worse, the smell of deadly gas. Thank goodness for a robot capable of quickly detecting and analyzing a smell from our very own footprint.

A*Library Bot The A*Star (Singapore) developed library bot which when books are equipped with RFID location chips, can scan shelves quickly seeking out-of-place titles.  It manoeuvres with ease around corners, enhances the sorting and searching of books, and can self-navigate the library facility during non-open hours.

DRUG-COMPOUNDING ROBOT Automated medicine distribution system, connected to the hospital prescription system. It’s goal? To manipulate a large variety of objects (i.e.: drug vials, syringes, and IV bags) normally used in the manual process of drugs compounding to facilitate stronger standardisation, create higher levels of patient safety, and lower the risk of hospital staff exposed to toxic substances.

AUTOMOTIVE INDUSTRY ROBOTS Applications include screw-driving, assembling, painting, trimming/cutting, pouring hazardous substances, labelling, welding, handling, quality control applications as well as tasks that require extreme precision,

AGRICULTURAL ROBOTS Ecrobotix, a Swiss technology firm has a solar-controlled ‘bot that not only can identify weeds but thereafter can treat them. Naio Technologies based in southwestern France has developed a robot with the ability to weed, hoe, and assist during harvesting. Energid Technologies has developed a citrus picking system that retrieves one piece of fruit every 2-3 seconds and Spain-based Agrobot has taken the treachery out of strawberry picking. Meanwhile, Blue River Technology has developed the LettuceBot2 that attaches itself to a tractor to thin out lettuce fields as well as prevent herbicide-resistant weeds. And that’s only scratching the finely-tilled soil.

INDUSTRIAL FLOOR SCRUBBERS The Global Automatic Floor Scrubber Machine boasts a 1.6HP motor that offers 113″ water lift, 180 RPM and a coverage rate of 17,000 sq. ft. per hour

These examples all come from the aptly-named site    because while these functions are labour-saving and ripe for automation, the increasing use of artificial intelligence in the workplace will undoubtedly lead to increasing reliance on machines and a resulting swathe of human redundancies in a broad spectrum of industries and services.

This process has been greatly boosted by the global pandemic due to a combination of a workforce on furlough, whether by decree or by choice, and the obvious advantages of using virus-free machines – I don’t think computer viruses count!  For example, it was suggested recently that their use might have a beneficial effect in care homes for the elderly, solving short staffing issues and cheering up the old folks with the novelty of having their tea, coffee and medicines delivered by glorified model cars.  It’s a theory, at any rate.

Already, customers at the South-Korean  fast-food chain No Brand Burger can avoid any interaction with a human server during the pandemic.  The chain is using robots to take orders, prepare food and bring meals out to diners.  Customers order and pay via touchscreen, then their request is sent to the kitchen where a cooking machine heats up the buns and patties. When it’s ready, a robot ‘waiter’ brings out their takeout bag.   

‘This is the first time I’ve actually seen such robots, so they are really amazing and fun,’ Shin Hyun Soo, an office worker at No Brand in Seoul for the first time, told the AP. 

Human workers add toppings to the burgers and wrap them up in takeout bags before passing them over to yellow-and-black serving robots, which have been compared to Minions. 

Also in Korea, the Italian restaurant chain Mad for Garlic is using serving robots even for sit-down customers. Using 3D space mapping and other technology, the electronic ‘waiter,’ known as Aglio Kim, navigates between tables with up to five orders.  Mad for Garlic manager Lee Young-ho said kids especially like the robots, which can carry up to 66lbs in their trays.

These catering robots look nothing like their human counterparts – in fact they are nothing more than glorified food trolleys so using our thumb rule from the movies, mankind is safe from imminent takeover but clearly  Korean hospitality sector workers’ jobs are not.

And right there is the dichotomy – replacement by stealth.  Remote-controlled robotic waiters and waitresses don’t need to be paid, they don’t go on strike and they don’t spread disease so it’s a sure bet their army is already on the march.

But there may be more redundancies on the way as well.  Have you noticed how AI designers have an inability to use words of more than one syllable?  So ‘robot’ has become ‘bot’ and ‘android’ simply ‘droid?  Well, guys, if you continue to build machines ultimately smarter than yourselves you ‘rons  may find yourself surplus to requirements too – that’s ‘moron’ to us polysyllabic humans”!

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