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Interview: PPS CTO Avsharn Bachoo

In this promoted episode of the podcast, TechCentral interviews Avsharn Bachoo, chief technology officer at mutual financial services provider PPS, about the company’s massive digital transformation project and how and why it chose to migrate its IT systems into the cloud.
Founded in 1941, PPS is the only mutual financial services company in South Africa that focuses exclusively on graduate professionals, providing tailor-made insurance, investment and healthcare solutions to its members.
In the podcast, Bachoo explains why PPS embarked on the project, why it chose Google and Microsoft as its cloud partners, and the lessons the company learnt along the way.
What exactly was involved in preparing for and then managing a project of this magnitude? Bachoo talks about why PPS embarked on this journey and what other companies should be considering before they embark on similar digital transformation projects.
The project has allowed PPS to be more flexible and innovative, allowing it to implement advanced technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to better serve its members.
Bachoo walks through what was involved from a process and cultural perspective in effecting enormous technological change.
It’s a great listen, with many learnings for corporate South Africa. Don’t miss it!

Interview: Suse country manager Grant Bennett

In this promoted episode of the podcast, TechCentral talks to Suse country manager Grant Bennett about the enterprise open-source software company’s partnership with SAP and how South African companies are increasingly realising the benefits of moving to cloud services.
Bennett talks about the history of Suse, which was founded 27 years ago, and its path to becoming a major player in cloud and enterprise software, including last year’s US$2.5-billion acquisition by EQT Partners and how the company plans to use that capital injection to fuel its growth plans.
The conversation then turns to the recent SAP Saphila conference at Sun City and Suse’s relationship with the software giant in deploying SAP Hana in-memory solutions into corporate South Africa.
Bennett talks about how South African businesses have begun to embrace cloud computing. A few years ago, the conversations that were taking place were very different, with most companies today actively developing cloud strategies and moving workloads onto cloud platforms, be their on-premise, public or hybrid clouds.
What impact will this shift have on corporate IT department, specifically from a skills perspective – will it lead to job losses, how should companies go about reskilling their employees and what does it mean ultimately for enterprise IT?
Bennett answers these questions and more in this fascinating discussion. Don’t miss it!

Interview: Rifqa Carr of new Uber rival inDriver

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod is joined by Rifqa Carr of ride-hailing service inDriver, which is newly launched in South Africa.
InDriver, which was started in Russia and which now has 24 million users around the world, was launched in Cape Town in February and in Johannesburg last month.
Unlike bigger rivals Uber and Bolt (formerly Taxify), inDriver allows riders and drivers to bargain with each other over fares. This, Carr said, has reduced the cost of ride-hailing for users by about 40% relative to its rivals.
In the podcast, Carr explains how the service works, why the company has introduced a base fee for riders in Johannesburg and talks about the company’s plan to expand to other South African cities in time.
She also talks about how inDriver vets its drivers and handles security for both drivers and riders, especially in light of sometimes violent pushback by the metered taxi industry.

Interview: CEO Farzam Ehsani on the future of crypto money

In this episode of the podcast, co-founder and CEO Farzam Ehsani returns to the show for a wide-ranging discussion on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
Ehsani talks about why he quit corporate South Africa – he was blockchain lead at RMB – to strike out on his own with, a cryptocurrency exchange backed by heavy-hitter investors, including Michael Jordaan. He talks about the imminent launch, next week, of rand/bitcoin trading on VALR and what this will mean for local crypto investors.
The conversation then turns to the recent sharp rally in cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, and what Ehsani believes has been driving them higher. How much of an impact will next year’s bitcoin block return halving having on the market – not much, yet, he says – and what is the prognosis for crypto assets?
Other questions Ehsani tackles include:
Can the unbanked – seen a target market for cryptos – ever hope to comprehend cryptocurrencies given the playing field is dominated by developers and geeks?
Does it matter that bitcoin is not (yet) being used widely as a currency for day-to-day transactions?
Should regulators become much more actively involved in the space to protect consumers?
Could bitcoin ever be worth US$1-million?
It’s a fascinating discussion about the future of money. Don’t miss the interview.

Interview: Seacom chief development officer Suveer Ramdhani

In the latest in a series of promoted podcasts with Seacom, TechCentral’s Duncan McLeod talks to Seacom chief development officer Suveer Ramdhani about the changes sweeping the telecommunications industry.
Ramdhani talks about the consolidation that has started to take shape in the South African telecoms sector - some of it driven by Seacom - as well as what's driving this change and what's likely to happen next.
The conversation turns to the role of regulators such as the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa and the Competition Commission and whether the way they regulate the sector is optimal or could be tweaked to support industry growth.
As bandwidth increasingly becomes a commodity, with prices falling relentlessly - driven by new players that are upending the traditional telecoms model - how is the industry going to transform, and what does it mean for the big incumbent operators - and the challengers, for that matter? Ramdhani shares his views on who will win, and who won't, as these disruptive changes begin to manifest themselves.
New technologies, including the Internet of things, software-defined networking and network function virtualisation, artificial intelligence, and 5G, also present big opportunities - and big risks. Ramdhani talks about how these technologies will, in time, transform the sector.
It's a great discussion. Don't miss it!

Interview: Intergreatme CEO Luke Warner

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews Intergreatme co-founder and CEO Luke Warner about how the technology start-up managed a R32-million fundraising round using crowdfunding platform Uprise Africa.
Described as an “emergent regtech player”, Intergreatme wants to create a world where consumers no longer have to fill out forms. The company, which has already secured deals with local banks and telecommunications operators, hopes to remove the pain for processes such as Fica in financial services and Rica in telecoms.
In the podcast, Warner talks about some of the implementations it’s been involved in, how it secures consumers’ private information and its expansion plans after the successful crowdfunding exercise.
He explains how the company went about the crowdfunding to ensure it was successful and offers advice to other start-ups wanting to use this mechanism to raise capital instead of traditional venture capital or private equity.
Integreatme attracted over 400 investors through Uprise Africa, though it also received five R5-million investments, making up the bulk of the R32-million raised. Many of those that invested were black women, raising the company’s black economic empowerment profile, something Warner hopes will help it work more closely with the public sector.
Don’t miss the discussion!

Interview: Telkom CEO Sipho Maseko

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews Telkom Group CEO Sipho Maseko on the group’s 2019 financial results.
The discussion kicks off with Maseko explaining whether Telkom can keep up the astonishing growth in its mobile business, where it almost doubled its number of subscribers in the past year. He talks about the impact this could have on the group’s capital expenditure in order to sustain the robust performance into the future.
Maseko then turns to consolidation in the broader mobile industry, whether Telkom is still interested in acquiring Cell C (it’s not) and how consolidation, if it happens, might play out.
He then turns to Telkom’s roaming and infrastructure sharing deal with Vodacom and the impact that it likely to have, with implementation of the roaming component expected to be concluded by the end of June.
He talks about Telkom’s plans to monetise Gyro, its property management business, and reflects on the enormous job losses that have happened at Telkom and whether more cuts are in the offing.
Lastly, Maseko explains Telkom’s strategy around Huawei given the geopolitical tensions between the US and China and how the company is attempting to mitigate the risk associated with developments in the past week.
Don’t miss the discussion!

Interview: Jolla (Sailfish OS) CEO Sami Pienimäki

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod is joined by Jolla CEO Sami Pienimäki to talk about the implications for the world of smartphone operating systems of the US government’s decision to force Google to hang up on Huawei.
In the podcast, Pienimäki discusses the impact the decision could have on Jolla’s Sailfish OS, an open-source smartphone operating system tailored for business users and governments around the world. Jolla, Pienimäki says, has received enormous interest from Chinese smartphone makers in Sailfish OS in the wake of the US government’s directive to Google.
Could Sailfish OS, which has its origins in the Linux-based MeeGo OS – previously developed by Finland’s Nokia and US chip giant Intel – potentially be an alternative operating system to Android for Chinese device makers that fear being cut off by Google? Pienimäki explains why he thinks this is the case.
Sailfish OS, which runs Android apps, can be installed by users on a range of handsets, with the software actively being developed and ported by a large community of open-source developers.
Pienimäki explains why Jolla pivoted from the consumer market – at one time it developed its own smartphone and tablet devices – and into the corporate and public sector markets, and why he believes the US government’s moves against Huawei will shake the foundations of the mobile industry.
He talks about Android’s dominance – it’s installed on about 90% of active smartphones – and whether this dominance is poised to be broken by the developments around Huawei. Could a third major smartphone operating system platform now emerge?
He provides his views on Huawei’s new Hongmeng OS, and its chances of success, and talks about why he thinks previous attempts to tackle Android’s dominance with projects such as Ubuntu Touch and the Firefox OS failed.
It’s a great discussion. Don’t miss it!

Interview: IoT.nxt CEO Nico Steyn

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews IoT.nxt co-founder and CEO Nico Steyn about the recently announced acquisition by Vodacom Group of 51% of the company.
Steyn explains how the deal came about, what IoT.nxt will use the capital injection to do and what’s next for the Centurion, Pretoria-headquartered Internet-of-things platform start-up.
In the podcast, Steyn talks about why he quit his corporate job at Pinnacle to co-found IoT.nxt, its funding from Talent10, its expansion into Europe and more recently the US, and its plans for further globalisation.
What are the opportunities for IoT.nxt in the Vodacom Group – and the broader Vodafone Group – and will the company continue working with other telecommunications operators in the South African market?
The company will continue to be run fairly autonomously of Vodacom, though it already supplies IoT solutions to the company and plans to expand this in time, Steyn explains in the podcast.
Don’t miss the discussion.

Interview: Sophos's Paul Ducklin on WhatsApp security

In this episode of the podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews Paul Ducklin from British security company Sophos about the news that WhatsApp has been targeted by an advanced "cyber actor", who exploited the software’s voice calling feature.
The exploit allowed attackers to potentially install malicious code on targeted users' smartphones.
Ducklin explains what we know so far about the security exploit, who is behind it and how it's been used, and why users must urgently install the latest version of WhatsApp.
How concerned should ordinary users be about the exploit, how do they check if they've been compromised and should they be considering alternatives to the ubiquitous instant messaging platform?
Don't miss the discussion.

Interview: Axiz CTO Jacques Malherbe on the changing role of distribution

In this promoted episode of the TechCentral podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews Axiz chief technology officer Jacques Malherbe on how the ICT distribution industry is changing significantly.
Driven by the growth of cloud computing, digital transformation and a less comprehensive role being played by original equipment manufacturers, the relationship between these vendors, their distributors and resellers is being shaken up radically.
In the podcast, Malherbe explains how all the big vendors globally are changing their business approach -- from one where there were “super active” in the entire value chain to one where they are shrinking into their core businesses, in the process moving a lot of their activities to distribution partners.
They are asking distribution to do market-making, to have enablement technical resources and provide other support services. At the same time, corporate customers are shrinking their IT departments.
All of this has a big impact on the profit margins for distributors, as vendors shed their service offerings. It also affects how and where distributors must invest. This has drastic implications not only for the IT distribution channel but for the broader IT ecosystem in South Africa.
In the South African context, government is shifting spend from the big systems integrators into the small, medium and micro enterprise segment, leading to a big shift in the sector. Malherbe explains how Axiz hopes to help SMMEs participate in the market more actively and meaningfully.

Interview: BBD director Gus Pringle on SA's IT skills crunch

In this promoted episode of the TechCentral podcast, Duncan McLeod interviews BBD director Gus Pringle about the IT skills challenge in South Africa and the work that the company is doing to try to mitigate the problem.
Pringle explains that no matter how many IT skills are developed, this is never enough to fill all the positions available – an unfortunate dichotomy in a country with a severe rate of unemployment.
In the podcast, Pringle talks about the work that BBD is doing to develop new skills, including its initiative with WeThinkCode. He explains where the demand for skills in coming from, the sort of talent needed by corporate South Africa and the skills mismatch in terms of what’s available and what employers are looking for.
BBD, whose employees typically work on bespoke and complex systems, says developer skills are in high demand, are easily able to job hop for higher pay or simply emigrate – the latter having become a major challenge, particularly in the past six months, with a spike in talented coders leaving the country.
Pringle expands on BBD’s initiatives to retain talent, including setting up operations in markets favoured by South African expatriates, and bemoans the difficulty involved in getting talent from overseas into the country.
The conversation then turns to what schools and universities are doing right – and wrong – in nurturing fresh talent for the sector. What should they be doing to encourage talented youngsters and prepare them for the world of work?
Finally, Pringle talks about the challenge of bringing more female skills into the IT industry and why it’s important that the sector becomes less male dominated.
It’s a great discussion – don’t miss it.

203 episodes

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