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Is your Big Data properly protected?



In the past few years there has been much hype around Big Data and why organisations need to harness and analyse it in order to deliver business value and overall success. Big Data initiatives are on the rise as enterprises strive to increase efficiency, improve business decision making and attain that important competitive edge.

importance of Big Data to business, however, it is often the case that systems put into place to protect it are completely inadequate. This is due to the complexity of designing and developing solutions to support such large data sets at a cost that fits in with IT budgets.

However, inadequate data protection on what is fast becoming a mission critical asset introduces unacceptable levels of risk. Organisations need to adopt data protection and management that is Big Data aware, so that automated disaster recovery and enhanced visibility can be applied unilaterally across all data sources and platforms.

In addition, solid protection and recovery solutions help businesses to fully realise the power of Big Data initiatives, further enabling increased efficiency and enhanced decision-making through advanced analytics and improved innovation. Here are five key considerations for businesses to ensure that their Big Data enjoys the same level of protection as all of their other enterprise data volumes.

1. Unstructured data is growing exponentially

Unstructured data from a variety of sources, including social media and videos, can contain valuable customer intelligence if it is effectively managed and protected. This data is growing at an exponential rate, and analyst firm IDC estimates that by 2020 there will be as much as 44.1 zettabytes of unstructured data. Despite this growth and the understood importance of Big Data, multiple surveys show that the majority of organisations still place greater value on protecting their structured data sources, and many do not even have unstructured data on the radar.

In order to achieve effective information governance, it is essential that data management solutions can incorporate Big Data. This means that they need to easily accommodate large volumes of unstructured data from many sources to ensure the comprehensive data protection and recovery business requires.

2. Consider your integration options

Obviously the most economical approach to Big Data protection is to integrate it into existing recovery infrastructure. However, many systems are not capable of providing the required levels of visibility into leading Big Data tools such as Hadoop, Greenplum and GPFS. Effective Big Data awareness means that data protection solutions are able to help organisations map Big Data implementations and architectures. This in turn is essential in delivering the required insight to ensure protection and recovery as a whole, or across selected nodes, components, and/or data sets.

3. Big Data can be a security and compliance risk

Unstructured data is not just social media, but includes textual data as well. It comes from a plethora of different sources, including email, PowerPoint presentations, Word documents, collaboration software, instant messages and more. When these vast and ever-growing data sets are added to the volumes of structured and analytical data used to derive business insight, the complexity increases. The result is frequently a multi-structured mess that introduces risk across security and compliance.

In order to address this challenge, organisations need a sophisticated converged backup and archive process. This will assure Big Data recoverability as well as discovery, without adding complexity or heavy resource overheads.

4. Disaster recovery needs to be automated

Human error that results from manual disaster recovery processes introduces risk. This risk is multiplied when it comes to Big Data, thanks to the volumes of data and complexity involved as well as the many sources and repositories of Big Data and other organisational data. In order to ensure adequate protection, organisations need an intelligent approach to protecting the infrastructure of Big Data initiatives.

This requires the ability to automate disaster recovery for these multi-node systems. In addition, organisations need to look for solutions that do not permit all users to have all access. A single user interface for setting rules and policies across any combination of physical, virtual, cloud and Big Data environments is essential. This ensures more efficient and reliable data management and disaster recovery.

5. Data portability is key

Big Data can originate from and reside in multiple infrastructure options, including cloud, on premises, in virtualised solutions or traditional data storage – or any combination of these. For the most effective and useful backup and recovery, data needs to be portable across infrastructure, regardless of its origin. This delivers the required levels of agility to avoid vendor lock in – essential to ensure organisations have the agility they need to leverage new innovations and developments with ease.

Big Data needs to be top of the data protection and recovery agenda

Big Data is immensely valuable for business intelligence, advanced analytics and technological innovation, and its value will only continue to grow. Organisations need to ensure that their IT protection, compliance, security and recovery reflects this value. However, Big Data does not override regular, structured business data. Organisations still need to ensure that their traditional disaster recovery plans and solutions are tested and effective.

Dealing with Big Data requires business to carefully examine overall data protection and recovery infrastructure to ensure readiness for Big Data as well as protection of regular data assets.


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Digitalization in logistics – A user’s experience



Geraldine Mamburu, Founder & MD PDQ Logistics (Source: Geraldine Mamburu)

In some cultures, children are sometimes named after events that would have taken place close to or during their birth.  Jokes around naming children Quarantine Buthelezi, Social-distance Moyo, or Pandemic Ndlovu, were circulating in 2020 and made for a good laugh, however, one couple in India took this a little too seriously and named their twin boy and girl, Corona and Covid.

Looking back, I do not recall ever coming across a proposal to name children after any of the variations around the word digital, after all, every second Point of View that was being released was around digitalization and digital transformation. It got me thinking, and realised that a lot of these terminologies are thrown about in the corporate space, but what does this actually mean to the end-user? How does the user interact, make use of, and appreciate digitalization?

Being in the logistics space has found me interacting with a lot more digital platforms over and above e-commerce, social media, and the all-so-dreaded-virtual-meeting platforms. My favourite most convenient app (which is currently the best thing ever since sliced bread in my books) has got to be Truck Fuel Net (TFN). TFN offers a cloud-based, real-time software management solution that helps me manage all my on-road refuelling and driver spend needs. Given that the bulk of operational costs in road freight is fuel, one must have their finger on the pulse and be on the constant lookout for the best price, over and above monitoring driver efficiency. The TFN Management system helps me decide, where, when, and how much the driver can refuel.

Sidebar – I’ve been driving a Ford Kuga 1.6 AWD for a few years (NB: No fire starter jokes allowed) and for such a small engine, that car can chow fuel – I’m talking 11 – 12km/100! I never used to fill up because it was painful watching all that money go down the drain. When I filled up the truck for the first-time round, let’s just say I needed to sit down because I felt a little dizzy.

Every day, we transport goods worth millions of Rands. It goes without saying that the safety and security of the driver, the goods we carry, as well as the trucks themselves, is of paramount importance. TFN’s solutions enable us to run a cashless operation. In the road freight sector, cargo, equipment, and increasingly drivers, are all targets for criminals and if we can take one incentive out of the equation, the better off we are.

Whilst on cashless operations, I would like to give SANRAL a standing ovation. Now, now, before your eyes roll all the way to the back of your head, let me just say that we might have qualms as “Gautengers” about how they went about the e-toll saga, but their app is such a lifesaver! With an e-tag fitted on the vehicle, I can manage my account quickly and securely. The app works in real-time, allowing me to be kept informed of my spend on vehicles. And lo and behold when I do forget to top up (because …you know …admin), I immediately get a notification the moment my funds are depleted, allowing me to top up immediately whilst the truck is still on route, contributing to a seamless operation. Well done SANRAL. Sometimes the government does get it right …sometimes.

The South African logistics sector contributes about 12% towards the GDP, according to Stellenbosch University and the World Bank. Of that percentage, approximately ¾ is attributed to road freight alone. With such modestly generous figures, it’s encouraging to see various organisations come up with digitally inspired solutions to cater to this industry.

This brings me to my most used platforms, Car Track and Tracker. I can only assume that before the advancement in technology, one must have had to have a great deal of faith, composure, and trust. Not to say that we no longer require these skills, but the ability to log onto these apps and be able to get real-time updates on the exact location of a customer’s goods in transit certainly prevents a blood vessel or two from popping (in the event that you cannot reach the driver.) As for Google Maps, it goes without saying, that this is the backbone of my interaction with these tracking platforms.

There are a bunch of other digital platforms such as Linebooker that I am still to explore as the business continues to grow. However, it’s been interesting to know that before we start thinking self-driven trucks (think of that one scene from Terminator, were the machine is operating the truck…but I digress) and other seemingly complex technological advancements aimed at this industry, there are still digital channels that make the day to day operations in logistics that much easier.

What other digital platforms are you using or have you heard off that have made a world of a difference in the logistics space?

Article by: Geraldine Mamburu, Founder & MD PDQ Logistics


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Three African-American Female Engineers Who Changed Our World



Image source: Pexels

The fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) produce innovation that drives us forward as a species. Despite the fact that women and people of color have often been at the forefront of new discoveries, their representation within the STEM fields is historically low.

As culture progresses in understanding toward the value of a diverse workforce, those seeking out the future leaders of STEM are reaching out to underrepresented populations – specifically, women and people of color. One such outreach is ‘Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day’, a global campaign established by the National Society of Professional Engineers.

The event, which takes place this February 25, is run by teachers, volunteers, and STEM professionals, and includes engaging engineering-based learning activities that encourage young women to develop problem solving skills and indulge their interest in science and engineering.

The road to their future success was paved by the intrepid women who came before them, including these three remarkable African-American female engineers:

  • Kimberly Bryant: Seeking to create an inclusive technology learning space for young women of color, Ms. Bryant created the not-for-profit coding camp Black Girls Code. As of late 2019, the organization has 15 chapters, and Ms. Bryant has been recognized as a White House Champion of Change for Tech Inclusion as well as one of 2013’s 25 Most Influential African Americans in Technology.
  • Dr. Patricia Bath: An early pioneer of laser surgery for cataract treatment, Dr. Bath was the first female member of the Jules Stein Eye Institute, the first female African-American surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, and the first female leader of a postgraduate ophthalmology training program.
  • Alice Parker: A housewife from New Jersey, Mrs. Parker developed and filed a patent for a gas-powered central heating system inspired by cold coastal winters. Her filing came before both the Women’s Liberation Movement and the Civil Rights Movement, a remarkable achievement for an African-American woman during her time.

More stories of African-American female engineers and  female leadership in engineering can be seen here:

To discover more about Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day, visit NSPE online.


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Press Release

North Ladder Secures $5 Million Series A Financing Round To Accelerate Global Expansion



North Ladder Team (Source: Siddharth Sudhakar)

North Ladder (previously called BuyBack Bazaar), a UAE based secured trading platform for pre-owned luxury assets and electronics, today announced a $5 million Series A funding round led by regional venture capital firm BECO Capital. The new investment will help the company scale up its technology platform, enhance customer experience and pursue further geographic expansion.

The homegrown start-up also revealed that it will begin operating under the new brand name North Ladder effective immediately, representing the company’s strategy of charting new markets and supporting individuals across the globe in their endeavour to elevate their financial situation. The disruptive and innovative technology platform is the first of its kind, providing access to verified buyers of second-hand goods and instant cash. North Ladder currently enables users to sell electronics such as phones, laptops, tablets, and smart watches, as well as luxury assets including watches and cars, with a unique option of buying it back within a few months.

The Series A financing builds on an exceptional year for North Ladder which saw rapid growth of its clients, network of buyers and corporate partnerships. To date, the platform has witnessed over 15,000 transactions in the UAE, with over 85 different nationalities served while earning an impressive 4.9/5 customer satisfaction rating. In 2021, the start-up is looking to establish its presence in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, with a focus on scaling the platform significantly in the next 18 to 24 months.

“North Ladder has demonstrated tremendous success with its unique model of helping customers access immediate funds against their assets. The provision of a seamless and trusted digital platform for the sale of pre-owned goods has immense socially transformative potential at a global scale. We are excited about partnering with them to take their services to the next level,” said Dany Farha, CEO & Managing Partner, BECO Capital.

The company recently appointed Sandeep Shetty, former Managing Director of the core ride hailing business at Careem, as Cofounder and Chief Executive Officer of North Ladder. Prior to Careem he also led the digital transformation program at Emirates NBD and has held leadership positions at McKinsey & Company and GE Capital across India, the United States and the Middle East. Sandeep joins the leadership team of co-founders Pishu Ganglani and Ricky Husaini who together bring years of prior global start-up, financial services, technology and operations experience.

“Our exciting partnership with the region’s leading investor BECO Capital gives us the opportunity to scale operations in the UAE and expand to other strategic markets, with the mission of meaningfully impacting people across all strata of society,” said Sandeep Shetty of North Ladder. “Our global auction brings professional buyers from around the world to compete and provide local customers with the best prices and no hidden surprises.”

Since its launch in 2018, North Ladder has been recognized as one of the “Top 5 innovative start-ups in the MENA region” by PayPal backed accelerator, Village Capital and awarded as an Innovator by Entrepreneur Middle East.




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