MS opens multimillion-rand tech centre
Microsoft SA last night launched the first Microsoft Technology Centre (MTC) in Africa, a hi-tech multimillion-rand facility that offers local companies the opportunity to develop globally competitive business solutions.
The centre, situated at Microsoft SA headquarters in Bryanston, is one of 31 MTCs worldwide and comprises a number of rooms that each serves a specific purpose in the business solution development chain.
The 'Microsoft Customer Immersion Experience' room offers a hands-on introduction to Windows 8 and its productivity solutions. It is designed to be interactive and experimental, and offers a hi-tech space where ideas for business innovations can be discussed.
Another space, named the 'Design suite', features smart boards where the apps and solutions can be demonstrated and refined. During a tour of the MTC, Microsoft demonstrated an app developed for the health sector by showcasing it on the smart boards.
The app allows doctors to use their personal devices to access patient information, test results and medical scans and graphs. Users can check their e-mail and consult with colleagues by sending patient information and test results. The app also allows for real-time monitoring of the patient, by connecting to hospital machines such as a heart rate monitor via Bluetooth.
In the 'Envisioning Centre', a system called CleanCity was demonstrated, which is a cloud-based application that members of the public can use to share information, such as the location of potholes. This information is then uploaded to a central cloud-based application, which municipalities can use to allocate resources to repair and maintain the country's infrastructure.
An app that was built for the New York Police Department was also demonstrated. Police upload all known information about a crime, its location and the victims onto a system, which then allows them to call up all criminal activity in a certain area or timeframe, or notice patterns in types or times of offenses.
The centre also features a 'Developer suite', dubbed the geek suite, which has state of the art equipment and development tools where apps and solutions are brought to life. The centre will also be available to app developers, start-ups and students wanting to test their solutions before taking them to market.
Microsoft SA MD, Mteto Nyati, says the MTC is a massive investment towards SA's ambition to become a regional technology hub. "This centre is all about collaboration and building an entire ecosystem of innovation. We want to dramatically speed up the pace of innovation, and help our customers and partners slash the time it takes to get solutions and applications to market."
Nyati emphasised that the MTC is the result of a collaboration effort between a number of role-players in the ICT industry, including HP, IBM and Incredible Connection. "We would like to create an environment where local businesses are able to create more jobs, whether here in South Africa, or anywhere else in Africa."
Science and technology minister Derek Hanekom said it is important that South Africans and Africans develop home-grown technology solutions and foster a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, particularly among the youth.
"There has never been a better time for businesses, government and the youth to develop solutions that can address a range of challenges. Technology hubs like these can only enhance our capacity to provide innovative solutions to the most pressing social and business challenges facing our country and continent," said Hanekom.