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Top 4 digital priorities for African telcos

With an expected 30-50 billion connected devices by 2020, the role and importance of big data in the business world cannot be underestimated

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After nearly two decades of uninhibited growth and profitability, African telecoms operators (telcos) are facing the converging forces of digital disruption. Some of the factors contributing to this are: easily accessible broadband internet, popular over the top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp, and changing consumer needs.

According to Ovum, telco operators will lose out on US$ 386 billion between 2012 and 2018 purely because of over-the-top VoIP services cannibalising voice revenues. This has sparked the players in the
industry to reimagine their business models, shifting away from simple communication services delivery to becoming digital service providers (DSPs) that power their customers’ digital lifestyles.

As the telco gold rush of the past two decades slows down, operators are increasingly looking at owning more of the customer mindshare by creating great brands built on practical usefulness, reliability, innovation, cost, and entertainment.

Telcos are no longer simply looking for revenue-generating customers; the focus is now on creating new revenue opportunities that allow them to sell business and lifestyle services at higher margins.

Telco operators in the African continent are faced with an urgent need to fast-track digital transformation to meet the challenges posed by the new business and consumer environment. Currently, four major digital transformation priorities have emerged.

Let’s unpack them one by one.

Priority 1Improving the customer experience

Consumers today demand personalised services and products to match their lifestyles. For telcos, the focus has shifted away from customer relationship management (CRM) to personalised engagement across any device, anywhere, anytime. According to a global EY telecoms industry study, 82% of telcos consider customer experience (CX) management as a top three priority for the industry. The increasing demand for personalisation has given rise to the development of unique experiences delivered to match individual customers’ interests.

As customers interact with telcos through their channel of choice – whether email, voice call, social media, or another channel – operators will need to take a non-linear approach to customer engagement. Here, telcos need a platform that can integrate  all channels and provide a single accurate view of a customer. And by leveraging analytics to improve product development, telcos can enable smarter
selling by increasing the relevance of their offer based on individual customer behaviour.

Priority 2 – Big Data and real-time analytics

With a predicted internet population of three billion and an expected 30-50 billion
connected devices by 2020, the role and importance of big data in the business world cannot be underestimated.

According to the Mobile World Congress, 74% of telco operators believe that the ability to manage big data is a major differentiator in the digital economy. With an estimated economic impact of USD 4-11 trillion by 2025, the business case is clear.

Telcos have a key role to play, as they are uniquely positioned to bridge physical and digital assets. With the Internet of Things (IoT) taking grasp, telcos should latch on to become enablers of innovation by leveraging their network assets for connectivity purposes. By adopting cutting-edge in-memory computing platforms, telcos can also leverage big data from mobile devices, sensors, usage patterns,
social media, and geolocation to create a single integrated data set that can inform improved business processes and create optimal customer experiences. This can also drive real-time insights and unlock new revenue streams.

As sensors and IoT devices become increasingly common and affordable, this capability gets amplified.

Priority 3 – Effective workforce engagement

As millennials increasingly enter the workforce, employers are forced to rethink  their employee engagement models to accommodate the disruptive expectations and demands of this highly connected, informed, and technology-enabled workforce. According to PwC, millennials will constitute more than 50% of the workforce by 2020.

For African telcos, workforce management is critical due to the on-going digital  skills shortage. Operators are relooking how they recruit, retain, and manage employees in a market where talent is a key commodity. Complexity is also on the rise: many operators do business in multiple countries, across various languages, and under different sets of regulations. Within this context, organisational complexity is driving up costs while slowing down progress.

ALSO SEE: Kenyan towns with cheaper Facebook Wi-Fi

Telcos that digitise their workforce gain the benefit of total workforce management supported by advanced analytics. As machine learning becomes more pervasive, manual transaction work in areas such as procurement, inventory management, and payment processing become digitised, requiring access to real-time analytics in order to support rule-based decision-making. And with real-time information at their fingertips, field technicians, store employees, and customer service representatives
are able to deliver personalised services, exceeding customer expectations.

Priority 4 – Enabling machine learning capabilities to drive innovation

With an estimated market value of US$ 47 billion by 2020 according to the IDC, machine learning is bringing new innovation capabilities and improved operations to data-heavy industries around the world, spanning from supply chain to retail to telecoms.

Machine learning can unlock new operational efficiencies by automating manual tasks
and speeding up time-to-resolution. This can play a transformative role in the way telcos conduct finances (through automated payment matching, for example), recruit for top talent (through intelligent job matching), and improve customer service (by gathering, analysing and responding to feedback quickly and efficiently).

Operators should take a platform approach to ensure they have the tools to innovate quickly and deploy machine learning solutions at speed and scale. In a recent McKinsey report, 40% of all the potential value locked within IoT demands interoperability between IoT systems, which requires a strong platform.

SAP Leonardo is a digital innovation platform that brings together breakthrough technologies such as machine learning, IoT, analytics, big data, and blockchain,  all integrated to the in-memory SAP Cloud Platform. It enables telcos to launch new innovations at scale while unlocking additional revenue opportunities from historical data and processes, and helps to redefine business models at a time when the industry needs it most.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.

Business Today is the leading independent online business website in Kenya. Started in 2012 by a veteran business journalist, it has a huge following both in Kenya and abroad. It covers various business and related issues. Email editor at: [email protected]

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Malware sneaks into Google Play

It poses improved ability to bypass Google Play’s protection mechanisms, according to ESET

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ESET, a leading global cyber security company, has discovered another set of malicious apps in the official Android app store.

Detected by ESET security systems as Android/TrojanDropper.Agent.BKY, the eight apps form a new family of legitimate-looking, multi-stage Android malware, and with delayed onset of malicious activity.

Eset has since notified Google’s security team about the issue. Google has removed all eight apps from its store; users with Google Play Protect enabled are protected via this mechanism.

Eset-300x76 Malware sneaks into Google Play

Figure 1 – Six of the multi-stage downloaders discovered on Google Play

Anti-detection features

None of the apps, that have advanced anti-detection features had reached more than a few hundred downloads. The malware samples all employed a multi-stage architecture and encryption to stay under the radar. After being downloaded and installed, the apps tended not to request any suspicious permissions and even mimic the activity the user expects them to exhibit.

Along with this, the malicious app also decrypts and executes its first-stage payload which in turn decrypts and executes the second-stage payload, which was then stored in the assets of the initial app downloaded from Google Play. The steps remained invisible to the user and served as obfuscatory measures.Eset-300x76 Malware sneaks into Google Play

Figure 2 – Execution model of Android/TrojanDropper.Agent.BKY

The second-stage payload contained a hardcoded URL, from which it downloaded another malicious app (that is, the third-stage payload) without the victim’s knowledge. After a pre-defined delay of approximately five minutes, the user was then prompted to install the downloaded app.

READ: Stock market will weather political storm: NSE CEO

The app downloaded by the second-stage payload, disguised as well-known software like Adobe Flash Player or as something legitimate-sounding yet completely fictional – for example “Android Update” or “Adobe Update”. In any case, the app’s purpose was to drop the final payload and obtain all the permissions that payload needed for its malicious actions.

Eset-300x76 Malware sneaks into Google Play

Once installed and having the requested permissions granted, the malicious app serving as the third-stage payload decrypted and executed the fourth-stage – and final – payload.
In all the cases investigated by ESET, the final payload was a mobile banking trojan. Once installed, it behaved like a typical malicious app of this kind: with potential to present the user with fake login forms to steal credentials or credit card details.
One of the malicious apps downloaded its final payload using the bit.ly URL shortener. Thanks to this, ESET was able to obtain download stats: as of November 14, 2017, the link had been used almost 3000 times with the vast majority of hits coming from the Netherlands.

Eset-300x76 Malware sneaks into Google Play

Figure 4 – Download stats for the final payload of one of the malicious apps, as of November 14, 2017

How to get rid of it

If you’ve downloaded any of these apps, you need to (i) deactivate admin rights for the installed payload, (ii) uninstall the surreptitiously-installed payload and (iii) uninstall the app downloaded from the Play Store.

To deactivate admin rights for the installed payload, go to Settings > (General) > Security > Device administrators  and search for Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Update or Android Update.

To uninstall the installed payload, go to Settings > (General) > Application manager/Apps and search for the particular apps (Adobe Flash Player, Adobe Update or Android Update) to uninstall them.

To uninstall the malicious app downloaded from the Play store, go to  Settings > (General) > Application manager/Apps and search for apps going by the following names: MEX Tools, Clear Android, Cleaner for Android, World News, WORLD NEWS, World News PRO.

Note that the settings structure may vary slightly depending on Android version.

How to stay protected

Unfortunately, multi-stage downloaders, with their improved obfuscation features, have a better chance of sneaking into official app stores than common Android malware does. Users who want to stay protected should not rely fully on the stores’ protections; instead, it’s crucial for users to check app ratings and comments, pay attention to what permissions they grant to apps, and run a quality security solution on their mobile devices.

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3 features that set iPhone 8 apart

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With the most Advanced Mobile Operating System iOS 11, the new iPhone features a new glass and aluminum design in three colours made out of strong glass

Redington Kenya Ltd – Telecom Distribution has launched  iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus in Kenya, which is said to be packed with unique innovations that improve user experience.

With the most Advanced Mobile Operating System iOS 11, the new iPhone features a new glass and aluminum design in three colours made out of strong glass, Retina HD displays with True Tone technology.

The camera gets even better with single and dual cameras featuring Portrait Lighting on iPhone 8 Plus, and wireless charging bringing a powerful new capability to the iPhone.

“Due to high demand in innovation and intelligence in smartphone technology, iPhones 8 and 8 Plus come in new colours, featuring new Retina HD displays and A11 Bionic chip, and is designed for the ultimate augmented reality experience that are precision engineered to resist water and dust” said Mr Sajan Thomas, Reginal Business Head EAST Africa Redington

iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus introduce a sleek glass back design in three new finishes: space grey, silver and gold. The glass finish is made using a seven-layer color process for precise hue and opacity, delivering a rich depth of color with a color-matched aerospace-grade aluminum bezel.

READ: Affordable data key to gaming industry in Kenya

“Free 10GB data bundle will be offered to those who purchase the iPhone 8 or 8 plus for a week while stocks last. Both phones will be available in stores starting on Friday 10th of November 2017 and will range from $1300 and $1450 respectively.” Added Mr. Sajan.
The Elite Digital Solutions store have put in place a payment plan for easier purchase of the iPhone 8 and 8 plus countrywide.

“For the first time ever, Elite Digital, Apple Premium Reseller will launch an EMI scheme for the new iPhones 8 and 8 Plus from as low as KSHs 9,950 per month. For orders made in the first week after launch, During the first week Elite will also provide FREE starter kit (Belkin wireless charger + iPhone compatible case +tempered glass)” said Ms. Aazra Kurii, Corporate Sales & Marketing, Elite Digital Solutions.

The Launch took place at The Elite Digital Solutions store at Sarit Center and Safaricom shop Westgate Mall in Westlands.

SEE: Why Black Friday is such a big deal for shoppers

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Hail the Huawei Y7 Prime!

Its features are a huge improvement – better camera, better security, faster operating system and enhanced capabilities, among others

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As mobile technology evolves, user experience gets refined. Anyone using a newer version of the phone they had will confirm that indeed things only keep getting better with time.

This realisation comes when one gets up, close and intimate with the Y7 Prime. For those who have had a fairly long dalliance with the Huawei brand, including ownership and interaction with a couple of models within the same range of the stable, they will no doubt agree that indeed, things are getting better. It keeps evolving.

The Huawei Y7 Prime was officially launched globally in July this year; and in Kenya in September. Its features are a huge improvement – better camera, better security, faster operating system, enhanced capabilities, among others.

The Huawei Y7 Prime comes with a 5.5-inch screen with HD 720, 4,000mAH battery capacity with intelligent power-saving technology for longer use, even with the advanced and faster latest android 7.0 operating system; fingerprint scanner for better security and 12MP rear camera for quality photography.

The phone has a 5.5” display, for better viewing experience. Its curved, natural rounded corners, 2.5D beautiful arcs, make the device lie more naturally in the user’s hand. This makes using it a pleasurable experience.

Then there is the enhanced battery life. With its 4,000mAH battery capacity, intelligent and longer use is possible. A Y7 Prime user can never be that person who walk into a place and begin scouting for a power source. With our lives literally running from the palms of our hands today, it is critical that the phone is up and running for as long as it is possible. Only a long battery life will ensure that we stay in touch with the rest of the world, carry out all manner of financial transactions, and generally stay alive.

The Huawei Y7 Prime is faster, thanks to the more advanced android 7.0 operating system, based on the latest technology. When a phone’s fast operating system meets telcos’ 4G network, the experience can only be unbeatable. Of what use if fast mobile network if the phone’s system is sluggish?

READ: Tousands quit Safaricom for Airtel

The camera is perhaps one of the most central features of a phone. In many cases, it is the first thing an admirer of a new phone is likely to inquire about. The Y7 Prime has a 12MP rear camera and 1.25μm pixels. This delivers clear pictures of moments and experiences, and even photography in low light conditions is no longer a problem.

When all is said and done, we all want proper security for our phones. It is personal space after all. The content saved in there, the conversations in it, the access to our financial life and all other aspects of the phone need are a closely guarded affair. The Huawei Y7 Prime is packed with a fingerprint scanner for better security. Scientists say that fingerprints are unique to individuals.

In a nutshell, the Huawei Y7 Prime is the phone of today and the future. It is packed with the features and capabilities to enable a device user to get the most out of it.

 

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Digital payment system makes life better for Nairobi residents

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The eJijiPAY platform, launched in 2014, automates payments for parking, business licenses, land rates, rent and traders market fees, among other services.

eJijiPAY, Nairobi’s electronic payments platform has improved the quality of life of Nairobi County citizens. Its seamless processes has not only increased compliance but also resulted in increased revenue collection by the county.

The eJijiPAY platform, launched in 2014, automates payments for parking, business licenses, land rates, rent, traders market fees, construction permits and health permits among other fees. Just recently, some other revenue streams such as morgue fees, off-street parking, and cess payments were automated as well.

“I am grateful for eJijiPAY,” says Miss Caroline Ogutu, who owns a Salon in Umoja. “The hustle of renewing my trade license is now a thing of the past. It took me less than 10 minutes to get provisional business permit this year. This exercise previously took me almost a month.”

The digital payment platform enables users to pay through mobile, web, banks and a network of over 10,000 JamboPay agents across the county. More than 2.5 million Nairobi citizens use the system daily. The convenience the system provides is what has resulted in its increased uptake over the years.

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“I always pay for parking long before I get to CBD. Either while in traffic jams or when leaving my house, reason, I discovered you can pay online anytime anywhere, says Mr Kibuchi Mwai, a motorist who uses the service.

Nairobi is the first City in Africa to roll out a complete unaided cashless payment platform and Nairobi City County has won awards such as the CIO 100.

JamboPay says it has made several improvements on the system to stabilise it. Earlier this year, says Mr Danson Muchemi, the CEO and founder, the company acquired Nutanix, which has tremendously reduced downtime.

“We are continuously working to make it as seamless as possible,” said Mr Muchemi. “Our vision for JamboPay is not only to be the go-to app for payments, but also a universal digital wallet that helps consumers spend wherever and however they want to pay, regardless of device,” adds Muchemi.

READ: NSE suspends Kenya Airways trading

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