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New era in global ICT standards

The World Telecommunication Standardization Assembly closed in Johannesburg last week with decisions on a wide range of issues that will change the future direction of the information and communication technology (ICT) industry .
The role of information and communication technology (ICT) in climate change stands out among a range of key issues that the global telecommunications industry body has agreed to tackle in the coming years.

Members of the International Telecommunications Union, spanning the global ICT industry and administrations from across the world, asked for increased emphasis on key areas such as ICTs and climate change, the deployment of IPv6, accessibility to ICTs for persons with disabilities, conformance and interoperability testing, and encouraging academic participation in the ITU’s work.

Malcolm Johnson, Director of ITU’s Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T) said in his closing speech: “We have received a strong message from our members that ITU is, and will remain the world’s pre-eminent global telecommunication and ICT standards body. And we also hear very clearly that ITU should continue on its mission to connect the world, and that bridging the standardization gap – by increasing developing country participation in our work – is an essential prerequisite to achieve this goal.”



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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

HR is about delivery, not about doing

Part of the solution to South Africa’s skills shortage is for companies to retain key staff. Or, as Kumba Iron Ore’s HR head puts it, “You don’t want to get into a situation where skills recycling is constantly taking place, with companies poaching each other’s skilled staff”

There is a great need to move Human Resources into a position where practitioners are in a position to add value to business.Fergus Marupen speaks in the opening session

This was the key message delivered by Kumba Iron Ore general manager of HR, Fergus Marupen, at last month’s 28th Annual Assessment Centre Study Group Conference held in Stellenbosch.

Speaking at the opening session, he said : “Too often in the past HR has been relegated to a department that reports to the financial manager and not to the head of the organisation, and this has hindered its ability to attract talented people and keep them.”



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Posted in the category: Economy, Insight, Strategy

How to handle media in a time of crisis

Janine LazarusJust as an army should always be on red alert and prepared to go into battle at a moment’s notice, companies should be geared to manage their reputation, deal with often unwelcome media interest, and mitigate the consequences of bad publicity. Media consultant JANINE LAZARUS outlines the rules of media engagement in times of crisis.

At some point, most companies will experience some form of media or publicity crisis. That is pretty much a given. So, to minimise the effects of negative publicity, the possible loss of reputation and, ultimately, the loss of profit, what is needed is a “fat-free”, decentralised approach to communicating messages.

To this end, I recommend a less “top heavy” approach to interfacing with the media. Managing negative media interest involves far more than just preparing a “holding statement”. It’s about empowering key staff members with the ability to communicate succinct messages to the media, without having to waste precious time waiting for head office to respond.



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Posted in the category: Insight, Strategy

East African operators must get basics right

Competition in one of Africa’s most dynamic markets will allow operators to enjoy East Africa’s growth opportunities if they get the basics right, said participants at East Africa Com in Tanzania.

The mood was upbeat in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last week, where over 450 telecommunications executives gathered for East Africa Com, their annual event in the region. The conference and exhibition brought together the leaders of the region’s stakeholders to discuss the commercial and technology strategies to maximise growth and improve services for users. From the debates that took place over the two days, it was clear that East Africa is one of the continent’s most dynamic markets.

East Africa ComThe message from some of the region’s major operators and investors at a plenary that opened the conference was that growth opportunities can be great in East Africa, for those who know how to grab them.

Most markets in the region experience high GDP growth, and favourable market and regulatory conditions. Host country Tanzania was presented as one of the most attractive of them, with 7% GDP growth, stable political conditions, dynamic operators and a low penetration levelwhich leaves room for growth.



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Posted in the category: News, Strategy, Technology

GM asks public to writeits history in a wiki

While many companies publish histories to commemorate special milestones, General Motors is putting a 21st Century, open-source twist on the way its history is told in cyberspace.

General Motors is inviting people worldwide to contribute to the Generations of GM Wiki on GMnext.com and share their personal, first-person experiences from the company’s first 100 years – everything from a story about a summer job in an assembly plant to pictures of a first car to favorite experiences with GM products.

A 1972 GM production team“The production group team I had been working in at the Chevrolet Nodular Iron Foundry decided to surprise the Plant Manager, Grant VanBuskirk, and go for the all time production record …”

An archive photo and excerpt from the Generations of GM wiki.

A wiki (Hawaiian for “fast”) comprises software that allows a web site or web-based article to be created, edited, updated and organised in a collaborative style. It is, for example, the engine behind the popular Wikipedia.

GM thinks its best authors are those who experienced the company firsthand – its employees, retirees, dealers, customers and the generations of people who have shaped GM.



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Posted in the category: Strategy, Technology

Mobile banking – and its threats – on the rise

Simeon ConeyThe unprecedented growth in mobile banking in Africa comes as welcome news to investors, telecoms providers, financial institutions and consumers. However, warns SIMEON CONEY, VP of Strategic Development, at AdaptiveMobile, the potential for fraud and abuse requires user education and operator engagement.

South Africa stands to emerge as the leader in mobile banking on the continent of Africa.

A recent United Nations Trade and Development Conference singled out how mobile technology can help trade and commerce, specifically benefiting the growth and sustainability of small vendors in South Africa.

Mobile is a natural medium for banking services such as money transfers, and the ubiquity of the mobile phone makes it easier to reach consumers, overcoming the challenges of limited ATM and bank property infrastructure in particular regions.

With this opportunity comes the challenge to protect users and the system from fraud and abuse.


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Posted in the category: Economy, Technology, Trends

Learning the Write Stuff

Andrew Miller and Mandy de WaalAspirant business leaders often lose sight of the fact that writing and communicating are integral to conducting business well. Writing is a skill that can be honed, but it’s a lot like going to gym. It requires discipline and routine exercise. Writers MANDY DE WAAL and ANDREW MILLER show you how.

Writing well is all in the ability to love words and commit to a regular workout. This is no less true in business than it is in creative writing.

The first thing we tell people who want to write well is to read, read and read some more, because reading offers an understanding of language and the different uses and style of language. If you want to be a good writer then you need to read multiple styles. If Cosmopolitan or Loaded is a permanent fixture on your bedside stand and you’re deeply involved in the guts of business, you will need to develop a more engaging business style. Next time reach for a Business Day, Mail & Guardian, Sunday Independent or Maverick to help you hone your business writing style.

There are four golden rules of writing for business:



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Posted in the category: Insight, Strategy

Arthur C Clarke remembered

Science fiction writer and visionary Sir Arthur C. Clarke died on 19 March 2008 in Colombo, Sri Lanka, at the age of 90. He was born on 16 December 1917 in Minehead, Somerset in the United Kingdom and moved to Sri Lanka; then called Ceylon, in 1956.

The international telecommunication community will remember Sir Arthur for making popular the concept of using the geostationary orbit for communications. In October 1945, Clarke published in the British magazine Wireless World a technical paper entitled “Extra-terrestrial Relays — Can Rocket Stations Give World-wide Radio Coverage?” The paper established the feasibility of artificial satellites as relay stations for Earth-based communications. Arthur C Clarke

Arthur C Clarke in 1984 at work on the film sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Photograph: Rex Features/MGM

Clarke predicted that one day communications around the world would be possible via a network of three geostationary satellites spaced at equal intervals around the Earth’s equator.



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Posted in the category: News

Study reveals multinational's broad economic footprint

Every one person employed by multinational giant Unilever is responsible for the support of a further 22 individuals, according to a critical study of the company’s economic footprint in South Africa. The findings are expected to create the impetus for other multinationals and large businesses to re-look how they create and share wealth.

The “Footprint” study, a critical research project carried out by Professor Ethan Kapstein of INSEAD, a leading European business school, has found that every person employed by Unilever South Africa supported another 22 up and down the supply chain. This impact on jobs is regarded as significant in South Africa, with its extremely high unemployment.Gail Klintworth and Ethan Kapstein

Unilever SA’s Gail Klintworth with Professor Ethan Kapstein

The study also found that, for every R100 of sales by the company, a further R145 of value-added is created in the wider South African economy. The associated economic activity also generated nearly one percent of South Africa’s tax revenue.

The role of multinationals, especially in developing countries, has been the subject of debate for many years. Some governments and campaigning organisations have questioned whether multinationals do more good than harm in emerging markets.



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Posted in the category: Economy, Insight, Strategy

Africa on the move

The Africa 2008 telecommunications conference, to be held in Cairo from 12 to 15 May 2008, will welcome leading names in the ICT industry, and more than 5000 visitors. It comes at a time when increased liberalisation of markets is leading to a boom in telecommunications on the continent.

Organized by the International Telecommunications Union, ITU Telecom Africa 2008 is intended to promote the ICT industry both regionally and internationally. Five to six thousand visitors are expected to attend the event and explore the region’s ICT and telecommunication market.

The event promises a concentration of government, regulatory and private sector players, together with leading thinkers to negotiate and debate the industry’s most innovative technologies and its most significant issues.

Dr Hamadoun I. Touré“The investment climate in Africa is particularly inviting right now,” said Dr Hamadoun I. Touré, ITU Secretary-General. “Liberalised markets forge forward and demand continues at a remarkable speed.”

Referring to the successful Connect Africa Summit, Dr Touré added, “We’re certain to see further momentum on the investment commitments generated in the last six months.”

AFRICA 2008 boasts an extensive international Exhibition – a key component of ITU Telecom since its inception in 1971. Leading players from the region as well from major international companies come together with a huge display of ICT products and services at the Cairo International Conference and Exhibition Centre.



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Posted in the category: News, Technology, Trends

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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