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From pause to play – using tech to adjust to the ‘new norm’

By Sivi Moodley, CEO at Macrocomm

Johannesburg, 01 May 2020
Read time 5min 20sec

Over the past 35 days, South Africa has been in an ‘active-pause’ situation as President Cyril Ramaphosa announced the country-wide hard lockdown as a much-needed avenue to recovery and eventually combating the pandemic.

People across the country were propelled into concern and worry over their jobs, businesses and families. However, as we move into level four from 1 May 2020, we, as a country, are slowly learning to absorb the notion that things will not be the same for a while and adjusting to the ‘new norm’.

But, how do we adjust our lives and, more importantly, how do we adjust our businesses to cope with the change? As a starting point, we need to think about the way we approach our businesses to afford sustainable growth. Being in the technology sector and having a passion for conceptualising, creating and developing innovative and useful technological solutions, I pondered on how several key industries can use tech to their advantage.

First, what is the process?

This is an opportune time to rethink-refocus-reposition your operations, enabling digital customer interface, efficient delivery of service and interpretation of data using IOT as a core strategy when the ‘new norm’ emerges, essentially moving from pause to play.

Refer to figure 1 below:

Figure 1: ‘J-Curve’, a time of active-pause, pivoting the business using technology (IOT)
Figure 1: ‘J-Curve’, a time of active-pause, pivoting the business using technology (IOT)

The birth of the fourth industrial revolution, aptly titled 4IR, will shape the way people, businesses and broader society intercommunicate. Considered polarising by many, in fact, it will create interoperability between devices that will enable efficiency, interconnectivity, real-time interpretation of key data with less human contact (important against the backdrop of COVID-19).

What are the specific requirements needed in a few key industries in order to leverage the new norm to its advantage?

Health and COVID-19 screenings

The hype around big data is coming to an end, as the focus now shifts to how we collect, process and interpret multi-data in real-time. We have taken stock of its revolutionary approach to maximising efficiency, and the resultant cost savings afforded to fleet owners, with a view to adapting its role in the ‘new normal’. In the short term, we find ourselves in the enviable situation of being positioned at the forefront of harnessing the power of data analytics and AI to produce meaningful insights to fleet owners and managers.

We have embraced the call to action, supporting fleet owners and drivers during this challenging phase. Fleet owners using our iHealth app can channel emergency calls and undertake driver COVID-19 screening, in real-time.

This app has developed capacity to create Internet based self-screening tools, allowing individuals to perform real-time health self-assessments. Self-screening enables people to make informed decisions, modify behaviour, thereby minimising the transmission. As the presidency announces the risk adjusted to opening of the economy, iHealth’s online COVID-19 screening tool will significantly contribute to the slowing down of this pandemic. Of significance, iHealth has recently been appointed by ‘The Aurum Institute’ to conduct HIV testing and counselling services in several regions of Ekurhuleni.

1. Fintech

Financial services will require a ‘smart-approach’ midst the pandemic, which has enforced social distancing. Using online-platform-devices, this industry will need simpler and faster onboarding process, placing control in the hands of customers and businesses. Disruptive approaches such as artificial intelligence (AI), big data, data scrubbing and process automation, has revolutionised decision-making processes, enabling approval within a few minutes to a day. The operation of the tasks needed in this sector should be moved into the hands of customers and business, ensuring ubiquitous connectivity and transparency.

2. Agriculture

Global hunger has become an even more prevalent and deeply concerning threat amid the pause phase. Ending it is not just about growing crops, but requires broader interventions and technology that ensures visibility to the farmer, providing him/her with important information in real-time. These include monitoring of water systems, temperature and humidity, soil health, animal health, surveillance and logistics.

Our Smart Technology enables farmers to seamlessly communicate with markets and service providers using a dedicated IOT application-platform, including the purpose built iGrow online application.

3. Utilities

The growing concerns around energy and water supply, is a serious concern facing many South Africans. More than ever, technology has the power and ability to cushion the impact this has on people and businesses and around the country.

For example, a bespoke end-to-end product-service solution has been developed to afford consumers the ability to see accurate consumption on their monthly bills, while public utilities can accurately measure the impact on the grid and the environment.

This means that existing public and private infrastructure will not need to be replaced when using our Smart Utility Technology, saving costs and improving efficiency.

4. Security

As business gradually opens, based on the recently announced risk-adjusted model, staying safe and connected to the grid is integral in the ‘new norm’. We have acknowledged that real-time solutions, and continuous reliable energy supply (on and off the grid) is imperative in the current socio-economic environment.

5. Parting thoughts

One of the most dynamic evolutions in information and communication, is the advent of the Internet of things (IOT). Technology has largely been restricted in connecting people to mainframes, laptops, tablets and mobile phones. Over the last few years, technology has become more ubiquitous (anyplace-anywhere-anytime), enabling connectivity between a broader range of devices to a network. These include vehicles, appliances, medical devices, street lamps, smart meters, solar, etc.

Industry experts currently estimate that there are more than ‘eight billion such devices’ connected to various networks, and project that this number will ‘expand to more than 25 billion by 2020’. Of significance, experts posit that IOT may ‘generate as much as U$13 trillion' globally in revenue by 2025.

Let’s utilise this to our advantage, educate ourselves on 4IR and let’s move with the surge, stay relevant and accessible to our customers and clients, be present and always on.

Editorial contacts
Mantra Publicity Prelene Singh (+27) 72 477 6643
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