Cura Risk Management

Winner of the award for Excellence in the Management of Technology for 2019, category for small enterprises

Empathy and future thinking are the secrets to remaining relevant

Longstanding business models have been smashed to smithereens by the brutal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and the lockdowns that have gone with it. But amid the tragedy of jobs lost and businesses bankrupted are reports of hope and resilience – of enterprises and entrepreneurs whose underlying technologies and business models were supple enough to prepare them for the unexpected.

Cura Risk Management is one such company and so are a number of its clients.

“Companies that have had proper business continuity and risk strategies will come out of this quite well because they were prepared for the unexpected,” says Alex Roberts, Cura’s Regional Director: Sales and Operations. “We didn’t know the unexpected would be a pandemic specifically, but we did know that business interruption is South Africa’s top business risk and already had the necessary response plans in place.”

Quite a few of Cura’s clients have let the company know that they are weathering the pandemic better than expected because they use its tools. “Governance, compliance and risk services tend to be seen as a grudge purchase but when businesses experience the benefits of being compliant, acting ethically and taking responsibility for their impact and employees, hopefully the thinking will start to shift,” he says.

Apart from the ability to exercise future thinking, the single biggest asset a business can have in the quest to remain relevant, regardless of pandemics and other systemic shocks, is probably empathy.

“New product development needs to be embedded in empathy so that we understand what the end user is struggling with, get to know their pain points and walk a little bit in their shoes,” says Jess Knight, Strategic Manager at Cura. “Then we can define the problem, ideate, prototype, test and implement. It all starts with empathy.”

A pandemic-related pain point for almost every business is adjusting to the new normal and the complex and complicated lockdown regulations that go with it, she says. Empathising with those struggles, Cura is launching a solution to enable companies to function effectively and compliantly amid the uncertainty.

“We have very agile tools and a very agile approach to rolling out solutions, and can do it very cheaply because we don’t change our software, we change the solution,” says Alex. “The market guides us and therefore we can take advantage of being the best mover – not necessarily the first mover, but the best mover.”

IoT.nxt

Winner of the award for Excellence in the Management of Technology for 2019, category for medium enterprises

How to benefit from the Internet of Things without rip-and-replace tactics

If there’s one thing everybody agrees on, it’s that the Internet of Things (IoT) is where every business needs to be – and sooner rather than later. The thing is that achieving this is neither easy nor cheap, especially for companies sitting with lots of legacy devices that can’t connect to the IoT.

Typically, companies with legacy equipment have had just one option if they wanted to benefit from the IoT: rip out all the old systems and equipment and replace them with new, IoT-compatible devices.

Then along came a South African technology IoT.nxt and made everything simple and so much more affordable.

Its strength is the ability to connect legacy and new devices, sensors, machines and “all things”, creating interoperability between them all, says André Jacobs, Director: Product Engineering at IoT.nxt. Once the old and the new are talking to each other, in real time, the IoT comes to life, churning out data that can be turned into really useful trends and insights.

Here’s an example:

Mobile communication operators have thousands of base stations that use large amounts of energy for air conditioning because the equipment inside must be kept at just the right temperature, meaning neither too warm nor too cool, says André.

Keeping those air conditioners (two at each base station) working properly is critical to the optimal functioning of the station and its energy usage, but is a hugely challenging task given the vast number of base stations on the ground and all over the country.

IoT.nxt and its smart technology have not only made this task manageable for a particular mobile operator, but financially viable, too.

Using its trademarked Raptor edge gateway and IoT platform called Commander, the company is “IoT-ising” its client’s base stations, given it unprecedented real-time insight into the performance of its air conditioners.

“On a cool day, when less cooling is needed, our technology can switch off one or both of the air cons and switch on a DC fan to blow in cooler air from outside,” says André. “If an air conditioner is broken and the temperature rises, the system alerts the cellphone operator, who can then send someone out to repair it.”

What is special about IoT.nxt’s solution is that it can integrate with many different devices through a single USB port, using their patented SDDI technology.

In other words, instead of the (expensive) one-to-one ratio that would be necessary through a point-to-point configuration, this technology can reach one to many, saving plenty of time and money.

The technology has numerous other advantages, including a no-code interface, meaning that clients do not need to have in-house developers to operate it.

Small wonder, then, that this medium-sized South African company attracted the attention of Vodacom, which now owns 51% of the business, and has won or been nominated for a host of top awards, including the IoT World Awards USA 2020 and Microsoft Best Independent Partner 2019 – not to mention the tt100 award for Excellence in the Management of Technology, 2019.

Osprey Technologies

Winner of the award for Excellence in the Management of Technology for 2019, category for emerging enterprises

Our adjudicator Mrs Janet du Preez shares with us their experience of Osprey Technologies.

Like an orchestra, IT support all fits together

Sssshhhh! Do you hear that sound? It’s the harmony of an orchestra where every instrument is playing at exactly the moment it should, at precisely the right pitch and pace. Well, Osprey Technologies is not in the music business but the orchestra analogy is a good one for describing what this IT support company does so well in the management of technology.

“I think our biggest strength is that we know where and when each piece of the service fits in,” says Nuren Govender, director of Osprey. “We coordinate all the different service providers and technologies, and we put it all together in a way that works.”

And because Osprey is the one coordinating all the different parts, its staff know almost instinctively how to locate any piece that is out of sync.

Nuren explains. “If you as a small or medium-sized company do your own IT and you have a problem such as slow connection speed, you would phone the internet service provider. They would probably say, ‘No, it’s not us.’ Then you would phone the network service provider, and they would say, ‘No, it’s not us either’. And so on and so on. We know where the problem is and go straight to the right place without this constant bouncing around between service providers.”

Part of this trouble-shooting skill comes from long experience: Osprey has been in the infrastructure support business for 12 years. The second part of it is having really good systems in place to monitor and respond to client problems, including a central helpdesk to log, track and trace. Third, the company has excellent client relationships. “Our ethos is to build relationships with clients and we get to know their businesses extremely well,” says Nuren.

Last but not least, the Osprey team is small but highly committed, motivated and hard-working. “Eight years ago, it was just me in the company,” he says. “Now there are six of us and between us, we service 30 to 40 clients.”

This was the first time the company had entered the tt100 awards programme, he says, and the announcement that Osprey had won Management of Technology in the category for emerging enterprises caught him off guard. “I had taken out my phone because I wanted to take a picture of the winner, and then they called out our name! It was awesome.”

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