[Column] Nick Durrant: New app trends that will help businesses succeed in 2020

Mobile apps are reshaping all industries and business leaders need to quickly adopt the latest mobile app trends in order to succeed in 2020. It is also critical for businesses to integrate the latest mobile app development technologies in order to reach a wider target audience and more importantly, to gain growth.

The innovations in mobile app development will impact all the online digital business products globally. According to Gartner, by 2023 more than 25% of the mobile apps, progressive web apps and conversational apps at large enterprises will be built or run through a multi-experience development platform.

Bluegrass Digital CEO Nick Durrant says by merely implementing the right strategy will not necessarily ensure a higher success rate because the mobile app industry is changing rapidly. “So, to keep abreast with the ever-increasing customer demands, it is crucial for businesses to incorporate the latest mobile app trends.”

He says new technologies are gaining popularity making it more efficient to build and maintain apps such as the growing popularity of Facebook’s React Native and Google’s Flutter.

Here is a list of some key mobile app development trends to consider:

Application Performance Management (APM)

APM helps boost the overall app performance and has become a preferred tool of quality assurance testers for the app testing process.

Enterprise Mobile Management (EMM)

EMM helps streamline the mobile computing business processes, it’s a platform that enables businesses to securely authorise mobile devices that are being used by employees on the company network. It not only strengthens the security structure but also helps staff to be more productive by enabling the exchange of applications and data over mobile devices.

Beacon technology

Beacon technology is one of the biggest mobile app trends, it is being embraced by many industries for its location technology and proximity marketing functionality. Beacons are wireless transmitters that make use of Bluetooth technology to send signals.

5G technology

With speeds nearly 100 times faster than 4G, 5G technology will most likely be one of the top trends in mobile app development in 2020. Mobile companies like Samsung and Verizon are already launching their dedicated 5G-capable chips and LG is also planning to fuse 5G services into its devices. With such an array 5G services, mobile app developers need to design apps to take advantage of faster network speeds with enhanced performance.

Wearable devices

Wearable devices such as smartwatches, fitness bands and trackers have been around for some time already. They are changing the way people interact with smart devices. In a report by Statista, it claims a staggering revenue of $33 billion generated by wearable devices by 2019. Surprisingly, many apps still don’t integrate with wearable devices.

Mobile app developers must keep an option to integrate apps with wearable devices. They require a set platform to run e.g. Apple Watch requires WatchOS and Android smartwatches sync with WearOS. Wearable devices will also be less dependent on the smartphone, currently, it still needs to be kept close to the smartphone to function.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

AI has seen a significant breakthrough in new technology in mobile application development. AI has not only made the mobile apps smarter, but it saves the mobile app development company a huge amount of time, effort and money. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), the AI market will experience revenue growth of more than $47 billion by 2020.

Internet of Things (IoT)

By the end of 2019, global Internet of Things (IoT) sales were expected to reach $1.71 trillion and by 2020, the total number of IoT devices should reach 20 billion. This convenience has already become a mobile app requirement, developers need to make apps IoT friendly.

Augmented reality (AR)

In 2020, AR integration will be an essential step for the mobile app development industry. Google and Apple used AR platforms for adding AR capabilities to their apps. There are many apps like Ikea that are already using the technology to enhance the user experience. Snapchat and Instagram have already been using AR for some time already, the stickers and animations are only possible through the AR technology.

Blockchain technology

Blockchain technology is already been used by many payment apps for providing trustable and uncompromised safety during transactions. Blockchain has surprisingly entered the mobile payment market and is offering a more secured money transaction option for mobile users. Online banking and eCommerce has evolved enormously, but with the advent of Apple Pay and Google Wallet, customers are gradually shifting to m-commerce.

Payment gateways

Businesses need to integrate a payment gateway into their apps. Mobile giants like Samsung are working on enhanced scan and pay techniques to make mobile payments more convenient. Apple is also working on a peer-to-peer money payment system called Apple Pay.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Developed by Google in collaboration with Twitter, AMP is a lean version of HTML to accelerate the speed of mobile pages. AMP enables mobile app developers to create complex websites with fast loading speeds and high performance across all mobile devices.

Google has integrated AMP listings into its mobile search results, it has helped developers reduce web page loading time. With a good AMP score, businesses can now achieve a better conversion rate, reduce the bounce rate and increase user retention. It will also boost the user experience. Google will also soon be providing a mobile search box that will help users find mobile-friendly websites.

Cybersecurity

Cybersecurity is a key aspect of all mobile app developments and will continue to dominate this space. Business leaders should explore deception technologies to catch the staff that have defiled the company’s network. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) has also increased the risk of mobile apps being attacked. It means mobile app developers need to work on the app security from the beginning and use a different approach.

Also, with more apps including a payment or money transaction feature, means a more robust security infrastructure. Developers now need to embed code encryptions, secure backend and API, and also include trusted payment gateways to ensure user safety over the app.

Chatbots

With nearly 5 million apps available, there are very few that have incorporated chatbots to facilitate better user experience. Businesses need to integrate this trend in their apps to ensure future growth, chatbots are crucial and welcomed by the users. Mobile apps that offer online shopping and food delivery services are integrating chatbots to help consumers get common queries answered without having to contact customer support.

According to Gartner, chatbots will be saving $8 billion for companies between 2018 and 2020. Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant are already much smarter and have many new features that help simplify people’s lives by assisting them in their day to day tasks.

Cloud technologies

To make the app function seamlessly across multiple platforms, businesses need to ensure that their apps integrate cloud technology in their app development strategy. Cloud technology will also ensure streamlined operations, reduced hosting and equipment costs and enhanced storage capacity.

Cloud computing integration also helps mobile apps store large amounts of data more efficiently to carry out complex tasks. Cloud storage platforms like AWS, Dropbox and SlideRocket have made it possible to run an app directly in the cloud, they help in increasing the reliability, speed, processing power and security of the apps and enable apps to deal with large amounts of data.

Predictive analytics

Predictive analytics can be used to make future predictions by analysing existing data, it uses techniques from data mining, machine learning, AI, statistics and modelling. Tech giants like Google, Apple and Facebook have already enhanced the customer experience by integrating AI to use predictive analytics.

“The mobile app industry will continue to expand at a rapid pace and the competition will grow exponentially, especially amongst mobile app developers. It is therefore critical to understand the trends before developing a new app. One also needs to understand the benefits and limitations of every new technology in mobile app development,” he concludes.

Nick Durrant is the CEO of Bluegrass Digital, South Africa.

Cloud offers 20% saving on IT spend

Cloud migration is typically driven by business demand, cost-savings and IT efficiency. However, to realise the full benefit of cloud migration, business leaders must understand the real business benefits for moving an application to the cloud.

One Channel CEO Bernard Ford says companies that have already migrated the majority of their business systems to the cloud save on average more than 20 percent in IT spending as a percentage of revenue and the benefits of Cloud will continue to increase.

According to a new report from Gartner, public cloud-services technology revenues are projected to grow by more than 50 percent worldwide in the next three years, to about $355-billion in 2022.

It predicts that the global public cloud services market is set to reach $266.4 billion, representing a growth of 17%, up from $227.8-billion in 2019. Software as a service (SaaS) will remain the largest market segment, which is forecast to grow to $116-billion next year due to the scalability of subscription-based software.

The second-largest market segment is cloud system infrastructure services, or infrastructure as a service (IaaS), which will reach $50-billion in 2020. IaaS is forecast to grow 24% year over year, which is the highest growth rate across all market segments.

Gartner says this growth is attributed to the demands of modern applications and workloads, which require infrastructure that traditional data centres cannot meet.

“Some people have a perception that the Cloud means a single Cloud. However, to really take advantage of the Cloud, you need to understand that there isn’t going to be just one Cloud, but many of them,” he explains.

As the world of Cloud evolves, it’s important to distinguish between siloed Cloud environments versus a multi-cloud approach. When people say they are moving all their business systems to the Cloud, they are essentially referring to the Internet where information will be accessible anytime, anywhere.

“However, with the concept of a multi-cloud world, it goes a step further. Although Cloud services all run on the Internet, they are often siloed. Cloud environments such as Microsoft Office 365, SalesForce and Zenefits provide critical services to businesses, but they don’t easily interact with one another,” he says.

This leaves companies trying to piece together various Cloud environments, and essentially creating a version of the former on-premises world, but in the Cloud. In the former on-premises world, businesses would purchase a range of applications and then be faced with getting them to talk to each other.

Integration was the misery of many an IT department’s existence, as was customisability and adaptability. While the Cloud could make it easier, organisations may still wind up in the same silos as before in the on-premises world.

Ford says one of the exciting things that happened early on in the Cloud computing era was that a set of open standards were defined. “These standards dictate the way pieces work for an individual application, but they also dictate how one application talks to another. This is what is known as cloud interoperability and is critical for businesses to not end up in a siloed Cloud environment.”

Choose the right platform for the future. Businesses that have moved their systems to the Cloud often use a wide range of applications. This is now starting to create real challenges with regards to scale, interoperability, cost-effectiveness, and integration.

For businesses that want to be strategic and mitigate these issues, one of these applications needs to be selected to be at the centre of this multi-cloud world. It would make sense to anchor this in one that’s the most critical for business namely ERP.

“You might call this a tiny bit self-serving, but I would offer up that an ERP system truly is the system of record for a business. If other systems stop or break, the business can generally move on. If the ERP system breaks, you can’t order or ship products or bill your customers. Things stop so thinking about your ERP Cloud strategy as the centre point of this multi-cloud hub is something I would strongly recommend,” he adds.

Ford says companies that embrace the multi-cloud world are set up for success, they are light years ahead of their competitors, because they have chosen to centre their entire business around one main ERP platform that easily integrates into other Cloud environments.

The IT department doesn’t stress when the CIO recommends a new Cloud application that the ERP system must integrate into. The CFO has one less major headache to deal with, as the cost effectiveness of the ERP platform enables the business to put their money where it matters most.

“Finally, their customers are happy because they can count on a business that is always taking orders, shipping on time and making their buying experience the best in the industry, creating customer loyalty like never before,” he concludes.

www.onechannel.cloud

[Column] Christine Ambetsa: Data Security; embracing autonomy and intelligent machines

The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) detected over 3.8 million cyber threats between July and September 2018 according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s first quarter sector statistics report for 2018/19.

CIOs are operating in a state of heightened awareness. Their mission-critical systems are increasingly under threat from constantly evolving viruses and hacks, making it tougher than ever to defend the lifeblood of their business – data.

The National Cybersecurity Centre (NCC) detected over 3.8 million cyber threats between July and September 2018 according to the Communications Authority of Kenya’s first quarter sector statistics report for 2018/19. The cyber threats detected varied from denial-of-service (DOS) including botnet and brute-force attacks that led to denial of computer services and illegal access to computer systems, online impersonation via social media accounts and domain names, malware including phishing attacks and online abuse including online fraud to name a few.

Unsurprisingly, nearly a third of Kenyan CIOs state that their key focus area is advanced security solutions, the second highest priority listed after disaster recovery and business continuity.¹

Security is hard

Simply put, security is hard. Much of it comes down to the way IT has evolved – as an open environment. For years, people and businesses have purchased disparate products, disparate servers, disparate operating systems and disparate databases and then connected them all together. The unintended and unfortunate result is that lots and lots of individual pathways have been opened up in the corporate system.

As a result, what’s sprung up around these corporate systems is a cyberspace battlefield, in which nobody is safe. Even IT professionals are combatants on that battlefield, tasked to make the right security choice every day, because if you don’t, you’re putting the future of the business at risk.

Adding even greater significance to the security mandate today is the advanced and persistent nature of today’s threats. Malicious actors are seemingly always one-step ahead and in order for enterprise security forces to do their job, they must exercise constant vigilance and innovation.

So how can businesses move forward with confidence and continue to build their data assets, while at the same time facing up to the barrage of security threats?

A new kind of defence

The answer is a new kind of defence; one that pits machine against machine so that organisations have a nearly impenetrable barrier to protect their data and their cloud.

Hackers are already wise to the power of letting machines do the work. Right now, for many organisations this battle takes the form of their malicious bots versus your people trying to defend from inside the business. But in this scenario of machine versus man, which do you think is faster? Who do you think will win?

To give your business a fighting chance in protecting its data, you need a defence system that’s completely automated, and even autonomous. With autonomous data management, database threats can be discovered automatically and then repaired. No human beings are involved. Patches are immediately applied while the database is running, which means you don’t need to wait around to find a window of downtime. This is essential for protecting your data on-premise and in the cloud.

Security in the cloud

The current state of cloud defence, in many cases, is just not good enough – not even close. The smartest technology companies are routinely penetrated, as we’ve seen in the unending stream of media stories about businesses having vast quantities of their data stolen. Even the most security-conscious government agencies are also vulnerable.

And because organisations don’t exist in isolation protection is needed both within the company and without. So, the cloud/s they run on also need robust cyber defences using the latest artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies; to find threats and kill them; to search and destroy. Again, the only way to win is to make the battle robots versus robots. It’s the only way to protect the cloud infrastructure without having both hands tied behind your back.

The good news is that the government intends to focus on emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud solutions and data analytics; this pronounced focus will be a key driver for the local ICT market according to the IDC’s Kenya Enterprise ICT Market Outlook for 2018 and 2019.

Time to let machines take the lead

We’re already seeing some companies turning to use systems like the autonomous database for better protection – and without the additional overheads.

Take National Pharmacies, an Australian pharmacy chain, for instance. The company has to be able to move its data at speed for life-saving insights, but needs autonomous capabilities to keep protecting its database without human intervention; as it can’t risk loosening any security or privacy practices at any point.

So, with attacks becoming more frequent, and attackers getting smarter and businesses data more vulnerable, it’s time to let machines take the lead on the cybersecurity battlefield. In doing so, companies will then have at their disposal, the most advanced tools in order to fight – and win – against the most advanced threats.

Christine Ambetsa is the Regional Applications Sales Leader – East Africa at Oracle

[Uganda] Raxio signs Hamilton Cloud Services as first customer

Hamilton Cloud Services (HCS), Uganda’s first local cloud service provider and a subsidiary of Hamilton Telecom, has finalized an agreement to colocate their servers in Raxio Data Centre’s state-of-the-art, always-on data centre at the Kampala Industrial and Business Park, Namanve.

 Raxio announced its plans to construct Uganda’s first tier 3, carrier-neutral and cloud-neutral data centre in July 2018. Since the announcement, Raxio has completed feasibility studies, land acquisition and design works and is now in the process of finalizing earthworks, contractor procurements and the relevant regulatory approvals.

With the announcement HCS becomes Raxio’s first officially signed customer for service when Raxio opens its doors in October 2019.

Construction is set to start later this quarter. Raxio’s General Manager James Byaruhanga and Paul Nalikka, Director, Hamilton Telecom, flanked by Ahura Vianne Allan the CFO, signed for their respective organisations, at Raxio’s offices at Rwenzori Towers, Nakasero, Kampala.

“Today is an exciting day for Raxio. Not only are we proud to announce Hamilton as our first officially signed customer- but Hamilton is also a uniquely strategic kind of partner that will give other Raxio customers and opportunity to enjoy a seamlessly integrated data centre and local cloud service experience under one roof,” said Byaruhanga.

 “HCS will now operate their infrastructure in a failsafe, always-on environment provided by Raxio, protecting their business and that of their customers and supporting their growth ambitions. Among other services, the HCS cloud computing and backup service model uses cloud resources to protect applications and data from disruption caused by disasters on a payas-you-grow model that allows customers to stay ahead with access to cutting-edge hardware and/or software solutions.,” said Byaruhanga.

He added that the agreement with Hamilton, is proof of a “win-win model” that “enables especially start-ups, SMES and mid-sized businesses to overcome the obstacle of upfront capital investments and to reduce total cost of ownership on software, storage and backup infrastructure, into manageable monthly operational expenses that are scalable and on demand, thus avoiding costs associated with over-capacity.

“This is very exciting for us and the market and we couldn’t be any happier to have Hamilton on board,” he said. Local cloud service in a tier 3 data centre environment.

Commenting about the deal, Derrick Sebbaale, Chief Operating Officer, Hamilton Cloud Services, said the deal will make HCS, “pioneers in providing the biggest local cloud service in a tier 3 data centre environment in Uganda.”

“Our vision is to revolutionize businesses in Uganda by providing affordable cutting-edge technology solutions, which enable them to thrive and prosper in a globally competitive economy. Our services are delivered via hyper-converged cloud infrastructure; delivered, sold, and supported by DELL EMC, which will enable customers to run and host applications across private, public, dedicated and hybrid cloud environments. By hosting our equipment in Raxio’s data centre, we will be able to quickly scale up our services, without the high capex costs on infrastructure; which savings will be passed on to our customers,” he said.

He added the agreement with Raxio will not only reduce on the high costs as well as risks of hosting and storing data overseas but, it will also provide a 24/7 secure, accessible and dedicated platform to HCS clients.

Pay as you grow model is a game changer Sebbaale, called upon business owners, government decision makers and regulators to support the shift to cloud computing as “it is a game-changer with real and proven return on investment, manifested through new efficiencies, enhanced customer experiences and new business models, leading to accelerated revenue and productivity growth.”

Quoting a 2017/18 study by the National Informational Technology Authority (NITA), Sebbaale said that while 86.4% of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) had reported that cloud computing significantly reduces ICT related costs, to date, only 28.6% of all MDAs reported using cloud computing services.

 The study also reported that 80.5% of MDAs and 66.7% of Local Governments relied on local in-house capacity to host their applications and databases- only 48.1% of MDAs and 38.1% of Local Government reported keeping backups offsite.

“This landmark agreement between Raxio and Hamilton is a paradigm shift and answers all these issues- we are giving businesses in Uganda a reliable and secure pay-as-you-grow local cloud service, housed in a world-class tier 3 data centre under local laws, with local customerservice,” said Sebbaale. 25% discounts on early-bird offer Byaruhanga said that Raxio was offering an early-bird offer that offers up to 40% discount on core co-location fees to customers who sign between now and the end of February 2019.

“Any customer signing up between now and the end of February is entitled to a 25% discount and they will be able to carry this price on for the duration of their contract. For customers that take up more than 5 racks, they will be eligible for an additional 15% discount, meaning that customers can save up to 40% on the price they will have to pay when we open for business in September 2019,” he said.

www.raxio.co.ug

www.hamiltoniot.com

[Column] Karl Reed: The customer’s journey to the cloud

Migrating to the cloud is no longer the complex process it once was. Thanks to the evolution of technology, moving from an on-premises environment can be done much more efficiently than before.

Migrating to the cloud is no longer the complex process it once was. Thanks to the evolution of technology, moving from an on-premises environment can be done much more efficiently than before. Even attitudes towards this strategic shift have changed, says Karl Reed, Chief Solutions Officer at Elingo.

Going the cloud route does not require a big bang approach. Instead, organisations can phase it in over several months (or years even) as their budget and business processes allow.

In the past few years, accessibility to the cloud from an Internet and capability perspective, as well as the speed to deployment, has changed for the better. In fact, Elingo’s recent experience shows customers are approaching the company wanting to migrate instead of needing the hard sell.

Mindset shift

Contributing to this enabling environment is the upcoming arrival of several multinational data centres in the country. Granted, it might only account for approximately 20% of the reason businesses are considering migrating. But, combined with more user-friendly technology, the market is ripe to start benefiting from this natural technology progression.

Perhaps, most importantly, the business mindset is changing. A year ago, decision-makers were still apprehensive about the cloud. Fast forward to the present and they are less resistant about moving. Now, they are much more open towards cloud discussions reflecting trends elsewhere in the world.

The country is basically there; we are fast approaching a time where every organisation will be connected to cloud in some form or another. Just consider how all your personal information is already stored in the cloud. It is only natural that this will start extending to business data as well.

Regulatory needs

Furthermore, the regulatory environment is also playing its part in getting companies to migrate. The likes of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) create complex environments. Fortunately, the cloud fully supports it and provides local businesses with a significantly more secure environment than if they had to build it themselves.

Given how the compliance requirements for cloud service providers are significantly more complicated than for ‘standard’ businesses, they do everything in their power to ensure the safety, reliability, availability, and accessibility of cloud-based offerings, systems and data.

Unique approach

With every customer environment and requirement unique when it comes to the cloud, service providers must be able to adapt their processes to accommodate. For example, expectations from an insurance company will be different to that from a courier business in terms of cloud migration and offerings. So, even though there is still complexity involved in making the transition, it is not insurmountable.

One of the most appealing things for any business when it comes to the cloud is the return on investment that is on offer. For one, the cloud enables the company to manage spend on a monthly basis instead of a massive upfront payment.

Secondly, there are the savings that companies do not even realise they are getting. Just like every computer in the business needs power, software licences, access to the Internet, and so on, so too do on-premises servers. Furthermore, these servers need to be maintained and upgraded every few years. Even the air-conditioning units in the server room need power, maintenance, and so on, continually adding to the cost of on-premises solutions. With the cloud, there is none of that.

Given the ease of use and speed of deployment, the cloud will soon become the default approach for many local organisations. The cloud is already everywhere. Now is the time to capitalise on it.

Karl Reed is the Chief Solutions Officer at Elingo.