16 May 2018

Zimbabwe: Demystifying Positive Use of Artificial Intelligence

Photo: Bautsch/Wikimedia Commons
(file photo).

Today on PowerChat, your leading converged telecommunications operator will focus on demystifying what is known as artificial intelligence. The company has found it imperative to share this knowledge with customers, readers and the entirety of the telecommunications fraternity against the background that the world is moving in the realm of interacting and experiencing the power of artificial intelligence (AI). Artificial Intelligence is real - whether in the home, car, business, when travelling around the globe and also on individuals' smartphones, tablets, computer and other smart devices that are digital and/or can connect onto the internet.

Defined simply, artificial intelligence (AI) is the development of computers or technology capable of performing tasks that typically would require human intelligence. Global technology companies such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Samsung to name but a few, are making huge investments in AI that are already changing lives and gadgets, and laying the groundwork for a more AI-centric future. Software has gotten significantly smarter of late- from Siri, Google Now, Bixby, Alexa and Cortana. AI is actually all around us. AI is arguably present in vacuum cleaners, cars, lawnmowers, video games, e-commerce software, medical research and international finance markets - among many other examples. For most of us, the most obvious results of the improved powers of AI are neat new gadgets and experiences such as smart speakers, or being able to unlock your smart-phone with biometrics such as your face or fingerprints. Into the future, AI is poised to reinvent other areas of life such as healthcare. Having an affordable, fast and reliable internet connection is a requisite to enabling artificial intelligence.

Powertel embraces the government ICT policy, whose thrust is that of ICT being an economic enabler for the development and establishment of sector appropriate solutions with comprehensive breath, depth, flexibility and applicability. Apart from internet and voice solutions, the corporate recently rolled out a state-of- the art communication solution for vehicle tracking and fleet management under its broad product category of the Internet of Things (IOT).

Steps on how businesses can own the digital age

Step 1: Own a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

A virtual private network (VPN) is a network that is constructed using public wires - usually the Internet- to connect remote users or regional offices to a company's private, internal network. A VPN secures the private network, using encryption and other security mechanisms to ensure that only authorised users can access the network and that their data cannot be intercepted. This type of network is designed to provide a secure, encrypted tunnel in which to transmit the data between the remote user and the company network. In Zimbabwe, ICT companies such as Powertel Communications, have long been offering VPN for real-time communication to sectors such as financial institutions (banks, insurance companies etc), retail and manufacturing, mining, tertiary education, NGOs and also to other ICT operators. Government departments, SMEs and private businesses in general need to leverage on the power of virtual private networking to connect remote users or regional offices to the company's private, internal network in real-time.

Step 2: Leverage on reliable, high speed internet access

Organisations must leverage on reliable, high speed internet access to promote efficiency, transparency and increased customer convenience. Whilst a VPN promotes internal network communication, the internet enables external communication not only with local but also with the organisation's regional and global networks. The Powertel brand has been synonymous with reliability, speed and dedicated corporate internet service offering better quality of services to the market. For over 15 years now, Powertel has dominated in the provision of internet and connectivity solutions to most companies; Telecoms , ICTs, ISPs and IAPs;- financial institutions- banking sector, finance houses, insurance companies; Government, Municipality and Parastatals; Health Sector Mining Sector, Manufacturing & Production; Retail sector, Education Institutions ( Universities & Polytechnic Colleges); Churches, Transport & shipping organisations, Motoring sector, Hospitality, SMEs and others. In fact, the company has carried all the major telecoms and listed companies in the country and continues to do so to this day, earning it the nickname, 'Carrier of Carriers' that is on its own a household name.

Powertel Communications has moved in line with the times through enabling mobility in internet access through the establishment of a mobile base station network that utilizes wireless devices including phones, modems and Wifi routers for access. Whilst there exist a number of suppliers of internet services in Zimbabwe, Powertel Corporate internet and its PowerConnect retail broadband solutions have proved to be the most affordable on the market. On the Powerconnect mobile internet solutions customers have been availed the choice to sign-up for data from as little as $1 for 2Gb data packages, whilst unlimited data package on mobile internet has been pegged at $40.00 for the whole month.

Step 3: Go digital

The modern day customers are not only highly knowledgeable but also increasingly highly mobile due to the prevalence and adoption of a high number of digital devices and interfaces.

Driven by the existent market and ICT regulatory changes, businesses today must also transform into digital customer- oriented organisations.

This demands for the adoption and use of more online and mobile customer touch points to enable seamless communication amongst customers, employees, suppliers and their respective communities.

Emails, SMS, mobile applications and social media are some of the most common digital interfaces used by companies today. ICT companies such as Powertel Communications have gone a step further to also incorporate web chat service, and online self-service support amongst some of the digital tools. In the recent years due to economic pressures affecting viability, companies have resorted to cost-cutting and downsizing measures, some which have affected their internal ICT support functions. This has seen the rise in outsourcing these services, with a one-stop shop provider being the ideal. Furthermore, the prevalence and growth of SME sector, some who prefer not to set up internal IT support, has seen the rise in demand for the one-stop-shop facility. Powertel has also ventured into Internet of Things (IoT) business currently offering fleet management solutions that businesses can also take advantage of in creating lean but efficient businesses. With the rise in IoT business and digital transformation, the conversation has now inclined towards cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. It remains incumbent upon businesses and individuals to use AI responsibly for business and process enhancement including product development and services improvement.

The preceding discussion is a cross pollination of ideas and not a conclusive position as the subject matter on Artificial Intelligence is a wide area and consequently encompasses a lot of debate on its definition, use and application. It does not represent the views of Powertel Communications but meant to spark meaningful debate on the subject matter. To share your views, join us on Facebook - PowertelZim and follow us on Twitter @ PowertelZW.

Powertel Communications is Zimbabwe's leading telecommunications company providing quadruple play value for money communication solution that is voice, video, data and connectivity (aggregation and value added services). The company seeks to enhance continual improvement backed by continued customer voice cascading.

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