Elaine Wang is an all-round tech enthusiast with a passion for the transformative power of the cloud for SMEs. She inspires and embodies tech leadership and is constantly finding innovative ways to solve problems. In this interview with Heath Muchena of Business Africa Online, Elaine explores innovations driving technology adoption, business leadership, and issues of diversity and inclusion in the technology sector.
Heath: You have a passion for helping SMEs figure out how technology can support their businesses. What’s your approach to engaging local enterprises?
Elaine: Rectron works indirectly through the various channels to help SMEs. We partner with our resellers to deliver technology solutions that help local enterprises run better. We are more familiar with the tech and how it can grow a business’s bottom line, so when we engage in our sales process, we aim to empower our resellers to communicate this value to the end customer.
Through the cloud solutions that we offer, we assist SMEs in collaborating better and being more productive, all while ensuring that their software is secure. Rectron’s SaaS solutions bring big business functionality at SME price points.
Heath: What are the trends you’ve noticed within African marketplaces in terms of uptake of enterprise cloud solutions?
Elaine: It is reality that infrastructure problems are holding back cloud usage in many African markets, but senior technology executives are accepting that cloud technology is a necessary ingredient for business growth. African marketplaces are in the early stages of development in terms of the uptake of enterprise cloud solutions but the impact of cloud services is already far-reaching.
For the African marketplace, cloud, virtualisation and the broader evolution towards serverless computing are the most disruptive technology developments since the advent of the mobile payment revolution. Infrastructure issues remain, but tech executives are realising that cloud technology is the way to optimise their IT costs, speed time to market and grow their businesses.
Heath: Your operations extend into countries such as Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Zambia. Any future plans to expand Rectron further into Africa?
Elaine: Rectron is well known to vendors and is recognised as being a distributor of choice for the South African and southern African ICT market. We will continue to forge close working relationships with vendors and facilitate joint business development by opening doors to our broad reseller network further into Africa. Our vendors work closely with our executive team to tap into new opportunities within our reseller partner base on African continent, leveraging Rectron’s core strength of being able to reach the breadth audience as a platform to mutual success.
Heath: Are we seeing enough innovation in the ICT/Tech space in SA? What challenges do you face under the current economic climate?
Elaine: The ICT/Tech space is critical to drive sustainable growth in South Africa and has shown strong output and investment in the past decade. The ICT sector continues to face challenges on a national level: education and skills shortages; job creation and empowerment; policy conflicts and regulatory failure have led to poor outcomes and slower development. A shortage of technical skills is the major challenge on company level and as technology continues to evolve rapidly we cannot always build on what has gone before, we must find new and novel solutions to the country’s unique challenges.
Heath: How do you develop consultation programs and training services to help drive adoption of technology and to ensure that businesses in Africa derive the maximum value from their technology investments?
Elaine: With a national footprint in the Southern African region, Rectron aims to provide excellent support to our customers with the purpose of assisting to drive the adoption of technology and ensure that businesses in Africa derive maximum value from their tech investment. To make the process as simple and as convenient as possible, Rectron offers online support services as well as walk-in face-to-face support in all major South African cities.
We have service centres located across the country staffed by skilled individuals who provide customers and end-users with service information, advice, returns, swap-out options and financing solutions. Our support staff can assist with assembly problems, preparing products for use, testing, configuration. They are readily available to provide support, advice and information.
Heath: What do you think is the best part of being a female leader in the tech industry and what advice would you give to women looking to break into the tech field?
Elaine: Being a female leader in tech, we really stand out! Women bring different views to the boardroom, which help to generate tangible business value. My advice to all women looking to succeed in the tech industry is to put up your hand to get involved, even when you are not sure if you should. Be brave and don’t back away from a new challenge, especially in a traditionally male-dominated environment. Through enthusiastically signing up for the next assignment, you are investing in the next steps of your career.
Rectron’s own programme, Basadi, was launched last year with the aim to empower the women at our company and to encourage each one to stand up and get involved. It’s really important that women support each other, and only by doing so, we will succeed in our goal of increasing female representation at all management layers within the company.
Heath: What is your biggest piece of advice for IT companies getting started with diversity and inclusion?
Elaine: Diversity and inclusion must be regularly discussed around the boardroom table; it requires buy-in from top management. Metrics should be put in place to evaluate the success of any such initiative. Organisations do well to involve their staff in Diversity and inclusion campaigns because diversity is meaningless without inclusion.
Heath: In your leadership role, how do you maintain a business focus while ensuring that innovation within the company stays on trend?
Elaine: Innovation is crucial to a business being able to improve its processes, bring new and improved products and services to market, increase its efficiency and, most importantly, improve its profitability. Whatever form it takes, innovation is a creative process. The ideas may come from inside the business, e.g. from employees, managers or in-house research and development work or outside the business, e.g. suppliers, customers, media reports, market research published by another organisation, or universities and other sources of new technologies.
Successful leadership requires that innovation becomes part of our thinking on every level. Business focus comes from filtering those ideas, identifying those that the business will take forward on and applying resources to achieve them.
Heath: How do you maintain work-life balance and what are your views on goals, timelines, and measuring success?
Elaine: I am goal driven by nature, and that has been key to the success that I’ve seen in my career. I believe that smaller goals are extremely important to one’s career as they represent milestones to reach – as they say, you eat an elephant one bite at a time. However, while I’m always looking forward to the next goal, I understand the importance of looking back and reflecting on my achievements. I’m fortunate that I work for a company that values family and work life balance. However, one trick that I have learned to be able to switch off from work is to remove email notifications on my phone.
Heath: What influences your leadership style and what values are important to you? How do you balance cooperation with others and independent thinking?
Elaine: I have been fortunate to have had some incredible managers in my career and I would say that they have heavily influenced my leadership style. Day-to-day, I strongly believe that one’s ability and willingness to learn is key to achieving success. While I believe it is important to have an opinion, any effective leader needs to be able to listen and mold their opinions, updating them with new information.
AOC dazzles visitors with a special game room at GITEX Technology 2021
AOC Sales Director Middle East & Africa, Carol Ann Dias (Image: Hazem Abed)
AOC, the world’s leading manufacturer of computer monitors, highlights its presence at GITEX Technology Week 2021 through their authorized distributor, Hiperdist. At GITEX, AOC is showcasing a special game room where visitors can get try out the latest lineup of gaming monitors, some of which are made for professional e-gamers.
“Being one of the largest information technology exhibitions not just in the region but the whole world, AOC would not want to miss the opportunity to participate at GITEX 2021,” said Carol Ann Dias, Sales Director Middle East & Africa at AOC. “More than making our presence felt at the show, we are now focusing on emerging markets which is why we have partnered with Hiperdist due to their strong presence in the MEA region,” she added.
Some of AOC’s well-known monitors that include the Agon and the G2 line up are all on display at GITEX. Where visitors are encouraged to try out the new displays that offer some of the best technologies that make it fit for the gaming crowd.
Already a top choice by gaming professionals, the AGON AG352UCG6 features a 35-inch display with a 120HZ refresh rate. The curved design supports a WQHD (3440 x 1440) resolution that has 2.4x more pixels than a standard widescreen monitor. It also features a lighting panel at its rear which can be customized in colours of red, green or blue.
Also on display is the AOC C27G2 gaming monitor that comes in a 27-inch size with a 165Hz refresh rate. There’s also a 1ms response time for more accurate play. And Freesync support so high-intensity games are razor-sharp without ghosting.
Visitors can join and experience AOC monitors at the Hiperdist stand in Hall 3 E1 at GITEX Technology Week in the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Philips Introduces Momentum 559M1RYV 4K HDR display with Ambiglow for Xbox
Philips 55 lifestyle in situ Xbox (Image: Supplied)
MMD, the leading display specialist and brand license partner for Philips monitors, today announced the release of the world’s first designed for Xbox console gaming monitor. Philips Momentum 559M1RYV featuring 55-inch panel size boosting 3840×2160 resolution with 4K / 144Hz, 4ms GTG response time, and many other features that will be available in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan.
Philips Momentum 559M1RYV: Design and Sound
This new “Philips Momentum 559M1RYV” bears the name Momentum 559M1RYV and bears the same exterior appearance as the previous version, including the adoption of a VA LCD panel with a W-LED backlight system with Ambiglow technology that adds a new dimension to your viewing experience. Innovative Ambiglow technology creates an aura of light on the surrounding wall from behind the screen panel. Its fast processor analyzes the content of the displayed image, and continuously adapts the color and brightness of the emitted light to match the displayed image. This technology also helps reduce eye strain to enjoy the scenes, it also supports DisplayHDR 1000 standard. The gaming monitor includes a specially designed speaker enclosure from the engineers at Bowers & Wilkins, the British loudspeaker company globally renowned for their innovative designs and sound engineering, that completes the experience.
Pankaj Budhiraja, Category Manager – Philips Monitor – Middle East & Africa, said: “The new Philips Momentum monitor offers unique user experience especially for gamers who demand exceptional graphic quality display and flicker-free pictures. This monitor is a wholesome entertainment package with build-in stereophonic speakers, sharp picture quality, vibrant colors and dynamic contrast and excellent resolution”.
Philips Momentum 559M1RYV: Performance
Philips Momentum 559M1RYV including Displayport 1.4, a USB-B port along with 4 USB 3.2 ports, two of them with fast charging. The Philips Momentum Monitor delivers designed for Xbox validates performance with ultra-clera 4K resolution at a minimum 120Hz refresh rate. 3840×2160 pixels with a 16:9 aspect ratio and a good response time of 4ms, as for the brightness rate in the mode up to 750cd / m2, while in the HDR mode it reaches 1200cd / m2. As for the color weight, we will notice that it offers DCI-P3 color gamut with 95% coverage, NTSC color gamut with 104% coverage, and sRGB with 125% coverage.
“As Philips always prioritizes user health, we introduce Ambiglow technology for eye-friendly productivity and a premium sound system. The monitor been extensively tested, and validated by engineers at Microsoft and MMD to ensure perfect compatibility, Philips Momentum meet’s the high expectations of the Xbox fans, creating an integrated gaming atmosphere to enjoy.” Budhiraja added.
Key features for Philips Momentum 559M1RYV:
- Screen size: 55-inch
- Resolution: 3840 x 2160 UHD 4K
- Panel type: VA
- Refresh rate: 120Hz (HDMI 2.1); 144Hz (DisplayPort 1.4)
- Response time: 4ms
- Aspect ratio: 16:9
- V-Sync method: Adaptive Sync
- Contrast ratio: 4,000:1
- Ports: HDMI 2.1 (x3), DisplayPort 1.4 (x1), USB-C (x1), USB-B (x1), USB 3.2 (x4)
- Ambiglow: 3-sided
- Power supply: Internal, 100-240VAC, 50-60Hz
The Philips Momentum 559M1RYV monitor is available through MMD authorised distributors in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Pakistan and comes with a standard 3-year warranty, and EUP in UAE AED 6999*.
GSMA Report 2021: Over Half World’s Population Now Using Mobile Internet
The GSMA has launched its global State of Mobile Internet Connectivity Report 2021 showing that, despite the COVID-19 pandemic, more than half of the world’s population is now using the mobile internet. Mobile internet usage translates to just over 4 billion connected people, 225 million more compared to 2019, and up from a third of people globally just six years ago.
Even with this impressive growth in mobile internet connectivity, both in terms of mobile internet coverage and usage, the report highlights that work must accelerate to bridge the digital divide. Of the 3.8 billion people who remain unconnected, only 450 million people do not live in areas with mobile broadband coverage, (“the coverage gap”). The coverage gap represents a significant improvement year on year.
The far bigger challenge is the 3.4 billion people who live in areas that are already covered by mobile broadband, but are not using it, (“the usage gap”).
The report examines trends in the coverage and usage of mobile internet over the last six years and identifies the key barriers to mobile internet adoption. It also looks at the early impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the most significant regional effects. Finally, it makes recommendations to help close the digital divide and ensure greater access to mobile internet connectivity.
“The COVID-19 pandemic made clear the importance of mobile internet access to people’s lives and livelihoods and has accelerated the digital transformation around the world. Mobile is the primary and often the only way to access the internet in low- and middle-income countries. While more people than ever are now using the mobile internet, some fundamental barriers stop far too many people from using mobile internet. To close this usage gap, all of us – government and industry – need to do more,” says the GSMA’s Chief Regulatory Officer, John Giusti. “In particular, we must address the key barriers to usage of mobile internet services, most notably literacy and digital skills, as well as affordability. Only through targeted and collaborative action can we bridge the digital divide.”
Coverage and usage gap in mobile internet is narrowing
During the last six years, the coverage gap has continued to narrow:
- In 2014, almost a quarter of the world’s population did not have access to a mobile broadband network.
- By the end of 2020, that figure was only 6%.
- Now, 94% of the world’s population has access to a broadband network, with most progress between 2014 and 2018.
- In 2020, global coverage increased by one percentage point, from 93% to 94%. This reduced the number of people living in areas without a mobile broadband network to 450 million. Those who remain uncovered typically live in sparsely populated rural areas with difficult terrain.
The number of people using mobile internet has also increased for the second year in a row:
- However, the usage gap remains large and accounts for the majority of the unconnected.
- In 2020, 3.4 billion people (43% of the world’s population) lived within the footprint of a mobile broadband network but were not accessing mobile internet services.
- Although the usage gap is narrowing, it is now seven times larger than the coverage gap.
- In 2014, the usage gap accounted for 64% of the total unconnected population – this figure grew to 88% by 2020 due to the increase in mobile broadband coverage.
- Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) now account for almost 93% of the world’s unconnected population and more than 98% of the uncovered population.
- Between 2019 and 2020, the most significant increase in mobile internet usage is in East Asia (61%), which grew by 4%.
Barriers to mobile internet usage
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of mobile internet connectivity to the social and economic well-being of people around the world. People with mobile internet access were able to stay connected with friends and family, conduct business, gain access to critical information and services, and otherwise ease the monotony of lockdown life. Yet 47% of the population in LMICs are still not using the mobile internet despite living within mobile broadband network coverage.
Key barriers include:
- Lack of awareness of mobile internet and its benefits, literacy, and digital skills make up the largest barrier to adoption. Nearly a quarter of adults across the report’s surveyed countries are not aware of mobile internet and its benefits.
- Affordability: internet-enabled handsets and data became less affordable in many LMICs in 2020 due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
These barriers often disproportionately affect specific segments of the population, especially people living in rural areas and women.
A Collaborative Approach
The global climate challenge shows that mobile connectivity can be a lifeline for people during crises, re-emphasising the importance of doing more to improve access to mobile services. The only way to close the digital divide is through a strong collective effort to address people’s barriers to accessing and using mobile internet. It requires targeted action by all stakeholders including mobile operators, policymakers, government and the broader private sector.
This report is the output of a project funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida). The views expressed are not necessarily those of either organisation.
The GSMA’s State of Mobile Internet Connectivity 2021 is available at: www.gsma.com/somic