News from the conference room: this is a series of blog posts in which blogging experts briefly review key Tech4Africa 2010 talks and panels from Day 1 and 2.
Tech4Africa 2010, the most anticipated event on the South African tech calendar, officially kicked off this morning. The brainchild of Gareth Knight, the event aims to bring the global giants and South African minds together to discuss the possibilities of human enabled technology and communications.
With international speakers like Clay Shirky, Leila Chirayath Janah and Dustin Diaz, supported by local minds like Alistair Fairweather, Rob Stokes and Barbara Mallinson (and too many more to mention), the conference promises to be, well, rad.
The proceedings were kicked off by Internet Solutions CEO; Derek Wilcocks. He spoke about cloud computing and the impact that the internet is having on our society today, describing the internet as The Fifth Estate. According to Wilcocks, the internet is a ‘power block in society, a force that can determine our society and communications’. He spoke of global corporations who are using the internet and social media to open communication channels, perform market research, develop brand advocates and increase customer service efficiency, but cautioned us that as powerful as the internet is, employees with the most cohesive face to face networks are up to 23% more productive than their digitally networked counterparts.
Wilcocks reminds us that non verbal communication dominates our lives as we live in an increasingly digital world, but ideally, real words smiles and handshakes should complement, expand and enrich our digital lives.
The second speaker in the Business Stream was Justin Spratt, who spoke on ‘Circumventing Monopolies with VOIP and Wireless’. Justin is the SA geek space’s favorite Australian, who heads up the WIFI and VOIP division at Internet Solutions.
According to Spratt, approximately 70% of phone calls originate from within buildings, so by implementing VOIP networks on fixed and mobile phones, we can save up to 30% of telephony costs, no mean feat on a continent where the consumer and business are being choked by high costs and low availability.
With his customary style, Spratt told us that “With all due respect to King Jobs, the mobile operating system currently sucks”.
Spratt predicted that by the end of 2011, BlackBerry sales will be in decline, due to the fact that the customer is not at the centre of their development and mobile architecture like Android will overtake iPhone and BlackBerry due to the open nature of the Google platform. IS are only developing their VOIP service for mobile software that they deem has a future, namely Symbian, Android and iPhone (only because you simply can’t ignore the iPhone).
IS aims to install their WIFI hotspots in every major centre, airport and corporate so they can ‘get into our spaces and save us money’ by automatically picking up that you are in the hotspot and routing you onto the network.
Spratt concluded that the key learnings from the IS VOIP project were not groundbreaking technologies but good usability, the ability to adapt and passion for your team, your project and your product.