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  • Durban adds to the Fabrik

    Originally posted in the Sunday Tribune.

  • What does it mean to be ‘of service’?

    It’s no longer appropriate to see customers as transient or meta-data or transactional. We have to be of service and of value to customers and we need to see them as a co-creator of products and services. We have to engage them with intimacy, service and value. Fabrik allows you to leverage the learned behaviour of digital tools and workflows (the entire social revolution) and accelerate your workplace transition with a quickened pace of human activity, focus and intimacy. It broadens accountability, builds compliance and increases transparency with your community and within your community. The previous era of technology reduced people to a “number”, to a “resource”, to a “demographic” – which is all well and good in aggregate but absolute disaster for Mrs Singh, Sowazi or Smith in specific. Today, we know we can do better. We know it in our hearts and souls even if we do not know exactly how. How can we do better when I have no voice to change? It’s time to empower your people to be able to be “of service” to your community without the layers of middlemen and friction that currently exist. For example, why do you need a call centre with minimum paid workers who have no connection to you or your brand? Outsourcing many functions and workflows in a business is fine, but you cannot outsource service. Instead of treating your customers anonymously like “everyone is the same”, how do you filter for trust, integrity etc. A Fabrik-powered community allows you to leverage the speed and intimacy of social but in your own private space. This means that your storytelling can be more conversational, real-time and intimate than it would normally be for the more manufactured and curated public social edge. This is a challenge that is hard for many communities because it means being a bit more expressive digitally in a broader space than would traditionally be the case (your team, your department). It’s harder because you can’t outsource your voice and you shouldn’t be “manufacturing” the content. Think of it as telemetry – and being a reliable and engaging transponder. Think of it as being of “service”. What amplifies the “SHARED CONTEXT” What adds to the “SHARED CONVERSATION” Around which goal are we “CHOREOGRAPHING”

  • 13th World Media Economic Management Conference

    From 6 to 9 May, Phil Molefe addresses delegates at the 13th World Media Economic Management Conference along the theme of “Media Management in the Age of Tech Giants”. In case you missed it, here is some of the coverage on Phil’s talk:

  • Someone is typing…

    Somewhere along the way, in all this cloud and mobile madness, we have been carrying time machines around in our pockets. Now they are making us anticipative. Will it happen now? What will happen next? It’s happening because dots are being joined and patterns identified and we are now used to these connections providing us useful information at ever faster rates. So now, there’s an anxiety you feel even though often you don’t know it. It’s the feeling you get when you have sent a message and you are waiting for a reply. The feeling you get when you are waiting for those three dots or “someone is typing…” to turn into a reply you can analyse and process. Happiness turns on the outcome. There’s banter so a companionable evening is on the cards; someone’s getting married so there’s slack to be taken up, the pug’s on the run again, the new gadget is on the way! Knowledge dawns on the outcome – and suddenly it’s #MeToo. Sometimes it’s insight and you learn something. Mostly though, it creates a shared connection. I belong. I am connected. I am not alone. It feeds the biggest anxiety we have in our lives.  The answer to the offer, “Come, take my hand.” Do I trust you? We have been talking about the effect that this digital journey has been making on our society and our opportunities here in Africa for some time. 22 years ago immedia adopted a guiding philosophy – that the future is converged and includes both the art AND science, the humans and tools that digital would elevate our lives to the real-time and in doing so eliminate lag, while infusing personality blooming into a new human age. In this new human age there would arise in the real-time a shared context a shared conversation a shared choreography Fuelled by the currency of trust and the foundation of community.  With the explosion of personality and the efficiency of information processing, humans can now at the same time be a part of many more communities than in the previous analogue era, because we can manage many more simultaneous connections. Because I can express myself at much higher fidelity now and much lower energy cost than ever before. My digital doppelgänger is my amplifier, my proxy, me. Which is why driving those communities, as ever, will be human conversation and human opinion.  And if, in your community, organisation, business or bike club you can’t keep up with the speed of social, you are losing.  Because those three dots … rule us now. Until you reply I can’t move forward and waiting for the other end of the connection to acknowledge transmission is probably the most primal of human anxieties. I am not alone. Until those three dots resolve into data, time seems elastic, time flows around it and is defined by it. The longest time in the world is waiting for three dots to complete so you can continue.  But an hour later it seems like you were talking for just a moment. Three dots to data and the data needs a reply, the loop needs to be closed, a human connection needs to be made. When all the world’s an algorithm, what’s the point of being human? To be more human. To build the compassionate and kind value system that allows all to apply ourselves to purpose and expression. Our collective mission now is to make better humans so we empower each other, we give dignity to each other, we give service to each other. Trump has been a metastasising and pure distillation of all the core ID of the past.  It’s like meeting a level boss who seems to be the big boss but turns out to be quite simply to dismiss once you work him out.  We have been merrily zipping along and thinking Trump was just another boss.  But he is a real-time virus creating a denial of service on human systems. I recently saw a headline “56 memorable quotes from Trumps WSJ interview”. 56! In an hour long interview.  You see what I mean? Not three or five or seven. 56! And memorable not for their insights but their world view or deviance from objective reality. The data bloom like an algae bloom and none of us can avoid being contaminated by it, like fallout. A lot of us have been focusing on the the building work of Fabrik and immedia and now it’s time to focus on the impact work.  On the “why do we do this”. Now you might have seen us grapple with that “what does it all mean” as we explored the thinking around the possible impact of a team like immedia and a product like Fabrik, if you looked up from your screen and saw a Mindshift. You would have heard us predict #MeToo and #HM and the real-time denial of service that is Donald Trump.  You feel the change in the air these days all over and in every aspect of life and global events seem to quickening the pace of change rather rapidly at the moment. I am a strong believer that change is coming because people are discovering a voice through digital. As with anything human, that voice is used for good, for bad – for constructive dialogue, for sowing confusion, to entertain and to spread division. Those voices are rising and suddenly everything is up for negotiation in the coming years and those voices in the marginalised edges are no longer excluded. We cannot continue to define economies and societies as successful because they work for the rich or privileged.  Successful human economies and societies work for everyone, especially those without a voice. Fabrik is just one of a wave of digital platforms that we hope will create the dialogue to build the future, entertain our people and inform our children. But it is the only one that has been built in Africa, by Africans, of a certain legacy. This is why I am so positive about our future. We offer you not just the platform, but the transplantation of this knowledge and methods to you through that legacy.

  • What holds us back from an insight-driven approach to business?

    On 14 May 2018, our comments from a Deloitte Risk Advisory panel on Data Analytics on the place of analytics in driving business decision-making were published in a blog post, republished here for your reading convenience: The practice of using data and analytics to deliver relevant and timely information to drive business decisions is still not pervasive enough in South Africa – why is this? Is it a lack of understanding of what is possible, weak leadership, poor data, legacy systems or simply a lack of strategy? Perhaps all of the above contribute. Perhaps leaders have become sceptical about investing in data and IT without experiencing the promised financial returns. Essentially, analytics professionals are simply not demonstrating tangible business value! Increasingly analytics, specifically Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, is discussed in numerous mainstream publications and platforms with stories relating to the remarkable achievements in the world of innovation and new business models such as those of Uber and Airbnb. It would be inspiring to have a South African example. While discussions around analytics have become pervasive in boardrooms, actions speak louder than words, and there is a lack of evidence of insights driving decisions in day-to-day business. At Deloitte Risk Advisory’s first Data Analytics gathering titled “Analytics in conversation”, we discussed and debated what it takes to become an insight driven organisation in South Africa. The objective of this new forum is for business leaders and analytics practitioners to unpack and debate the issues that we face locally around data and analytics in business. Deloitte Data Analytics will host future gatherings and leaders from all industries and areas of specialisation are welcome to join. The goal is to solve our challenges here in South Africa, while at the same time building a collaborative professional network of people with complementary expertise, experience and most importantly passion. The participants of the first Data Analytics gathering offered a number of reasons as to why we might be falling behind in South Africa: Fear: While analytics terminology is increasingly common, people are intimidated by their minimal knowledge. They lack an understanding of how the insights are derived and how the output can be utilised in their daily businesses. If something seems like magic then it is difficult to trust. In addition, there is a perception that sophisticated analytical solutions might replace jobs, which only adds to their apprehension. Communication and skills: Analytics is a team sport; it requires business, IT, data, mathematics, statistics and storytelling skills. In the absence of the context of the business problem, the technical skills to develop the data and analytics solution, as well as the adaptation of business processes to consume the output, the financial benefits of analytics will never be recognised. While there are often pockets of analytics excellence within an organisation, the output is not imbedded into a process where it can be used and acted upon in a timely manner. Analytics and operations currently are two separate functions, which means that business problems are not resolved with data and information. Culture: In our current economic environment in South Africa, people often feel vulnerable which can lead to resistance in experimenting with new ways of working. We gain comfort in operating in the “traditional business as usual” model rather than running the risk of an unsuccessful new initiative. This culture inhibits change and innovative thinking. Expectations: In our personal lives, we expect instant and relevant responses; if our social media does not update within seconds then we become disgruntled; if we receive an offer that is not relevant to us then we lose interest. We manage our exercise schedule by the instructions from our fitness device! However, in our professional lives, we are satisfied with manual and lengthy processes that deliver old and irrelevant information. Data and IT: Often the data and IT systems prohibit the timely delivery of insights. Poor quality data that is stored in silos across the organisation coupled with inadequate data management tools make the analytics process long and frustrating. Strategy and Leadership: The executives do not formulate and drive the analytics strategy; hence, there is a lack of focus, investment and commitment. The solutions to these challenges are multi-faceted but the Data Analytics discussion suggested four fundamentals that are required for change: Data needs to be treated as the lifeblood of the organisation. Employees at all levels require education around what analytics is, why it is important, how it can drive competitive advantage and most importantly how it benefits each employee. Analytics teams must demonstrate and deliver tangible value by solving relevant business issues. It is vital to empower cross-functional teams to collaborate and experiment. Executives must create the vision as to what is possible and then drive a strategy to become insights driven. The focus must be on investment, change management and people to make it happen. This will create communication, imagination and innovation. Analytics is an enabler to capturing institutional knowledge in a country that is short of skills. Analytics, in the right business environment, can track consumer sentiment, build customer loyalty, gain competitive advantages and make more effective business decisions. While Deloitte’s first Data Analytics forum raised more questions than answers, there was one overarching message – analytics is already part of business and those who it do properly will survive, compete and thrive. The Data Analytics forum is the beginning of a constructive discussion in the South African context around data and analytics that will help business start talking the same language across functional barriers of Business, IT, Finance and Analytics, to knowledge for the benefit of all employees, consumers and businesses. We need to become fanatical about developing solutions that are applicable, digestible and useable. Writer: Dr Tracy Dunbar Associate Director at Data Analytics Deloitte South Africa Contributors: Anice Hassim, Carl Wocke, Danny Saksenberg, Selene Shah and Phil Molefe.

  • The key to being Data-Driven is Being More Human

    When we are called in to digitally transform a business into a data-driven organisation, we start by working to understand the drivers of trust and community building within that organisation. This approach is founded on a philosophy that the fundamental challenge for a business going forward is to build sufficiently sustainable human systems using the technology that we have at hand. If you consider the explosion of data that digitisation has caused through the aperture of the speed of which that data is now being transmitted, it has accelerated so rapidly that this data explosion has effectively overwhelmed the filters that enable our society to derive authority, trust & belief – filters that were long ago created by human systems. It seems that, post the ‘Information Age’, we have created a situation where there are a whole lot of people who don’t understand how the digital systems work and operate, and we find the trust has been eroded in many of the areas where technology should actually work to create outcomes. To win back the trust of the people we empower through technology, technology providers need to seriously consider: how do we treat data with dignity? To start with, we need to ensure that there’s equity in the participation of how that data might be used or enriched so that people understand the choices that they’re making when they participate. There shouldn’t just be a case of a one-sided view of that data and its application. In the creation of tools for our own people and our clients’ people, we come to it from a more humanist angle – we believe that there are a number of clear issues that are beginning to surface in the way humans exchange data, the usage of that data, and the value systems that are being affected by that data. There’s a lot of static in the air, and that comes from the fact that, to effectively talk about becoming a data-driven organisation, it means first becoming a digital organisation. One of the things organisations have got to do is have the courage to change, and part of that change is having the courage to sweat the little things. When you are in possession of data, it means that you will discover 10 things you can do something about. Being a data-driven organisation means, you actually have to look at all of those 10 things. The only way to do that effectively is to very rapidly broaden and open up the aperture of information processing through the organisation – which happens to be your people. In the technology industry, management systems have had to change from the traditional hierarchical drop-down model to a more collaboration-driven, agile, rapidly “twisting time” model. The challenge with doing that properly is that you don’t have time to send it upstairs so someone else can make a decision – every person has to have both the courage and the accountability to ‘get on with it’. There therefore has to be a strong sense of trust in that environment and trust in the data flow. And this is why most organisations pause right there. Overcoming the next challenge means having the courage to diversify your data set and information flow. Adopting the markers of that change requires rewiring the entire business and empowering other voices. So they choose to focus on iterating process instead of people. The problem for us as human-focused digital transformation consultants is that this outcome of organisations choosing to fixate on digitising process rather than empowering people, comes from our own frustrations. The fundamental point of departure is (and Arthur C Clarke put it best): “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”! Now here I come as a data scientist or a technologist or a data-driven individual to tell an organisation, “The data says that if you want to be an effective team, you’ve got to start by throwing away these prejudices you currently have in your organisation about who you think is effective and at what.” And “Now you better believe me and you better trust me because that is the only thing you have to go on because the rest of it you will only understand after this pivotal shift in mindset” – it’s indistinguishable from magic. For us, the pattern is obvious. And that’s our challenge as a technology industry. Because we have not yet created an equitable, transparent, participatory culture around what we do with people’s data, we haven’t exactly covered ourselves in glory, when it comes to trust. How do we go about building that trust? We’ve got to put some new topics on the table – the things that have not been talked about, that need to be talked about. That’s only going to come, if we truly want to be inclusive, from an emerging market perspective; from teams that are currently dealing with these realities. Part of that is the willingness to listen when those far corners of the “data pool” speak up on the unintended consequences that an uninformed technology practice can lead to. For example, Facebook has a habit of testing algorithms in, I guess what they would call ’emerging markets’. Sounds harmless, an approach to testing within a data set. To me this sounds a lot like: “Hey, let’s experiment in this third-world country, before taking this new feature larger.” I personally think the data set in downtown Palo Alto is more diverse and denser than the entire country of Namibia. The thing is they don’t choose to run this test of their algorithm in downtown Paulo Alto – they run it in the entire country of Namibia. And the question we’ve got to ask ourselves becomes: “So… if this algorithm causes some kind of damage or lack of trust in communities because fake news starts getting injected, etc. etc. … Then what?!” As it turns out was the case. But what about this human collateral damage we’re leaving behind? And who said we can do that anyway, actually? And that comes down to when we are modelling this data and when we are gathering this data, are we looking at this as people, as humans, first?

  • Echocast Improvements

    This month, we've released major improvements to the existing functionality! Support for segmented recordings (pause/resume). Reliability improvements to live audio streaming. Reliability improvements to Audio Archiving. Better handling of unexpected client disconnection. We now allow for small gaps in audio when creating recordings.

  • Interview on Izwi LoMzansi

    Phil Molefe represents the Fabrik team live on-air on Izwi LoMzansi’s drive-time show, engaging in conversation with presenter MaFresh and Futhi Khumalo around the community station’s month-old app and its benefits for listeners. If you’re not catching this live on the Izwi LoMzansi Android or iPhone app, listen to the podcast on-demand!

  • sbc transforms its engagement with its audiences

    Originally posted on the SBC Facebook page. In a major modernisation of its broadcast technology, the Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation (SBC) has launched two new apps for its radio services, bringing audiences for Radyo Sesel and Paradise FM into the digital and social revolution. Available on iOS and Android mobile devices, the apps allow audiences to stream the stations live, catch up on popular content via podcasts seconds after the live transmission and to engage with the stations with opinions, news and participation in real-time. “With the new technology we are deploying, audiences will become co-creators of our broadcasts with us, bringing them into the very heart of our broadcast personality and services,” commented Bérard Duprès, CEO of Seychelles Broadcasting Corporation. “Audiences will be able to participate in the conversation of the day by sending through their voice-notes, photographs or text messages instantly to the station, where producers can curate and mix this feedback into the on-air broadcast in seconds. At Paradise FM and Radyo Sesel, there is tangible excitement around the possibilities for reaching the Seychellois diaspora globally and to engage with them in real-time. The teams are equally enthused on being able to engage better with our local audience, keeping them informed on issues and events and enabling a whole new set of information and content services, all in the palm of their hands. “We invite our listeners to embark on this digital journey together with us as we grow our skills and understanding of what it takes to be a truly modern broadcaster in the 21st Century,” says Mr Duprès. “Not only does the platform ensure a direct and immediate connection with our audience, it will allow us to preserve our radio programmes into a cloud archive that can be available over time to all citizens of the Seychelles as part of our audio cultural heritage,” notes Duprès, referring to other features of the platform. The CEO further noted that this was part of the Corporation’s on-going efforts to ensure that the benefits of the 4th Industrial Revolution were tangible to all Seychellois, Radio and TV audiences alike, following the recent roll-out of DTT. This innovation of SBC’s radio services has been made possible through partnership with a South Africa-based technology firm, immedia. SBC and immedia collaboration started a year ago in Windhoek, Namibia at SABA’s (Southern African Broadcasting Association) annual conference and AGM. “We are particularly proud that this globally revolutionary platform is an African product developed in Durban, South Africa,” comments Mr Phil Molefe, Executive Head of Strategy at immedia, the development team responsible for the Fabrik platform. Mr Molefe, previously Vice-Chairman of the Commonwealth Broadcasting Association, Chairman of the National Film and Video Foundation of South Africa and past Editor-in-Chief of SABC Radio and Television News, is a broadcasting expert who sees the Fabrik platform as being transformative in Africa’s developing economies. “In my thirty years of broadcasting, I have never been more excited at the potential to invert the traditional “We transmit, you receive” model of broadcasting,” says an energised Molefe. The apps are now available live on Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store respectively and SBC invites its audience to come closer to Paradise and Sesel with these pocket companions.

  • Innovators connect on new cloud app

    Originally posted in the Sunday Tribune. To promote and support technological innovation, Innovate Durban, has launched a cloud-first app that allows key stakeholders and the public to collaborate, connect and celebrate in a private, secure space. Developed by a local tech company, immedia, the Innovate Durban app provides innovators with a platform on which to find and share information, said Aurelia Albert, chief executive of Innovate Durban, a non-profit company set up by the eThekwini Municipality and other key stakeholders. The app also facilitates direct engagement with Innovate Durban, fellow innovators and their partner ecosystem within private programme-related messaging groups or on public channels. The black MAMBA1! fully electronic vehicle created by a group of five students from the University of KwaZulu-Natal, including Calvin Vanwieringen and Mathew Darko from Ghana, in 2016, is just one of the technological innovations you can access if you download the Innovate Durban app. “This private cloud-first platform truly revolutionises the way in which people securely and confidentially communicate within their communities and collaborate with each other – allowing for relevant, real-time information to be shared without the spam, noise and data-harvesting practices we consistently encounter in other forms of communication,” said Albert. “Innovate Durban has partnered with immedia on a number of exciting and cutting-edge projects for many years and we feel that this platform created by immedia’s proudly-Durban team will really set it apart,” added Albert. Albert said the app would advance their mission to ensure that all projects and programmes create sustainable impact.

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