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  • Hearing the voice of your listener

    Originally posted on © Radioinfo.com.au. Find out more about our Radio Days Africa 2019 experience. Radio Tomorrow with James Cridland Johannesburg, South Africa, is a place like no other to hold a radio conference, and I was privileged to be at Radiodays Africa recently on their tenth anniversary. Radio is an important part of life in Africa generally. Radio reaches people who cannot read or write; and plays the part of an educator in many parts of the continent. Here’s the excellent Steve Martin from the BBC talking about radio in Africa from 2013. It’s a good overview in how progressive African radio stations are, as well as how they think about radio in a different way to many of us. But radio in Africa is also, partially, stations like 94.7 in Johannesburg (tagline: “You love Johannesburg – we love you”), who sound as polished as the big top 40 stations you’d hear elsewhere. However, it was Bérard Duprès from the Seychelles Broadcasting Company that got me thinking a little. He began by explaining where the Seychelles were – they’re here in case you didn’t know – and spoke about the stations that the SBC run. One of the things Bérard showed was the radio station’s app. Obviously you can listen to the radio station on it, but you can also send a voice message to the station in high quality audio. The station uses a product called Fabrik, made in South Africa, which acts as a kind of private WhatsApp for the station, who are then able to edit and broadcast the messages. It’s a simple and straightforward way to get more voices on the air. They’re not alone. Radio X in the UK is using a rather less private WhatsApp – well, they’re using WhatApp itself – to get messages into the studio for Chris Moyles. And they seem to be having great fun with it, even if most of the callers want just to say the word willy and bum. For radio stations everywhere, though, services like this makes it really easy to remain real and relevant to your audience. For SBC, who run radio stations that broadcast to over a hundred different islands off the coast of East Africa, it’s a great way to hear directly from your audience. For Radio X, it’s a very good way to hear them swear at you. Getting proper, decent audience audio on the air has never been easier. If you don’t have this function in your radio app – what’s stopping you? About The Author James Cridland, the radio futurologist, is a conference speaker, writer and consultant. He runs the media information website media.info and helps organise the yearly Next Radio conference. He also publishes podnews.net, a daily briefing on podcasting and on-demand, and writes a weekly international radio trends newsletter, at james.crid.land. Contact James at james@crid.land or @jamescridland Photograph of Bérard Duprès: @RadioDaysAfrica

  • Are you ready for a Mindshift?

    Discover how easy it is to access the benefits of cloud and mobile in your customer or user base by using Fabrik to drive engagement. Sign up for this free industry session, or contact us to be invited to the next one.

  • Doing something wonderful

    immedia is proud to have been selected as one of the handful of investment targets for the DTI/Microsoft EEP Programme, an initiative that aligns strongly with our own ambitions as a company. The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) previously commented that the initiative had the potential to boost transformation within the South African ICT sector – and that it was on track to drive the shared vision of creating a strong home-grown South African software industry. Programmes like the EEP provide real benefit for entrepreneurs like ourselves allowing us to dream beyond our circumstances. We want to foster a new generation of South Africans, animated by the impact we can make on our communities when we are focused on the boundless potential of what we can do together, not alone. After all, this is a new world of everything being a ‘thing’ on the internet transmitting their ‘thoughts’ in real time for other ‘things’ to do something with. At immedia, we are committed to thinking and improving, and becoming better technologists and converged innovators in service to a better future for ourselves, better opportunities for ourselves, and better satisfaction for ourselves in the impact that we have in the world around us. We believe that by changing our community, we change our city, and so our country and so our continent… and if we do that, would we not have changed the world? From a genesis of two people, today immedia Studio employs 20 people in high value jobs and have inspired dozens of ex-immedians who are making an impact on our communities and industry. A small band of people drawn from many of the communities that Durban and South Africa have to offer have pioneered an industry that offers us 21st century jobs and, as entrepreneurs, 21st century opportunities. We believe we can compete with the world. That inspiration is a real, tangible thing here at immedia. We have been told that you feel it when you walk in. We see it when a teenager attending one of our Open Nights thinks, “This could be me.” and “I can do this here!”. And we see it in the space that has been carved on a Silicon Beach in Durban by teams like ourselves, by being relevant in this new age and by creating the careers we want – wherever home happens to be. The DTI/Microsoft EEP programme makes it possible for us to accelerate that process; to shore up the things we aren’t good at, and to pour energy into the things we are great at. As a child of apartheid I could have laid blame for the many challenges that lie at the feet of any entrepreneur there, but true entrepreneurship is about being inspired by the “why not?” At the things that can be done better, not the things that have been done badly. There is a sign in the Intel Museum in Silicon Valley – a quote from Robert Noyce, one of the Valley pioneers: “Don’t be encumbered by history. Go off and do something wonderful.” It’s so important we take teams there every year to see it and see around them, what gets created with that belief, so that they can come back and create something wonderful. What we’ve learnt is that Silicon Valley is not a geography, it’s a state of mind. It’s a state of mind that allows us to believe that, from the green cane fields and blue ocean we gaze on out every day, we can create a future for ourselves that allows us to be a part of the world, to be an actor in our country, to have our labours be of value to our communities. Technology is changing the world. We were fortunate enough to play with a new Microsoft innovation called the HoloLens, a holographic computer that immerses you in virtually created worlds. Microsoft have been polishing it in collaboration with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory who manage the Mars Rover programme. When JPL team members first tried HoloLens on and ‘walked on Mars’, they often became so emotional they were reduced to tears. In a sense, the first ‘manned’ mission to Mars took place with HoloLens. The promise of technologies like this for science, medicine and education is something we want to bring to life for our people. That’s the future we can see and it’s a future we want to play our part in. We begin this journey with the best generation of talent immedia has ever had and, if we do our jobs right, our greatest generation is yet to come. We are incredibly grateful to DTI and Microsoft for this opportunity and to our families, clients and colleagues in giving us the support and understanding to try to access that future. – anice

  • 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?

  • SABA Broadcasters’ Convention 2017

    Phil Molefe addresses delegates at the Southern African Broadcasting Association (SABA) Broadcasters’ Convention and 26th Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 25 to 29 September 2017, in Windhoek.

  • Durban International Film Festival

    Phil Molefe addresses attendees of the Durban International Film Festival on embracing modern technology to stay relevant and produce better content.

  • 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.

  • Smashboard updates

    It's now easier for you to send, filter and receive messages from your Smashboard engagement dashboard. Some of the new features include: An option enabling you to search for messages from a specific app member. An additional view of unsuccessfully sent messages. A URL preview when you're including links in your composed messages. The ability to see phone numbers of members when you download your chat message history to a CSV file. A weather widget appearing underneath the clock on your dashboard. And, as always, various other performance improvements and bug fixes that should make it possible for you to use Smashboard with more ease. How are you using Smashboard? What would you like to see in Smashboard? Let us know!

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