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    Under the theme ‘Enhancing Sri Lanka through digital disruption’ The Computer Society of Sri Lanka (CSSL) is calling for papers to be presented at the 34th National IT Conference (NITC2016) to be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka from 8th to 10th August 2016.

    NITC2016

    Author guidelines are available from this link.

    Authors are requested to send paper abstracts via info@cssl.lk

     

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      In line with its commitment to uplift ICT education in the country, Microsoft Sri Lanka hosted a conference between educators and technology experts to create awareness on using technological tools to educate young children. Held in participation of 150 schools and private educational institutes, the event focused on creating an ‘End-to-End Experience of Teaching with Technology’. This event acted as a preliminary introduction to the ‘Lets Teach With Technology (TWT)’; competition which is scheduled to be open to all the participant schools.

      The event comprised of several informative addresses on the role of technology in education and the importance of ICT knowledge in today’s economy and the job market. In addition, Microsoft introduced its O365 Education Free Plan to the event participants. O365 Education Free Plan provides each student and staff member withan email account, Skype for Business, 1TB of One Drive space and many other free tools. Several education partners of event namely, HeadStart, EWIS, DMS, SanjeLanka, Dialog, Softlogic and Toatal Amber displayed their own products and solutions at the event.

      Addressing the audience at the event was Country Manager of Microsoft – Sri Lanka and Maldives, Brian Kealey

      Addressing the audience at the event was Country Manager of Microsoft – Sri Lanka and Maldives, Brian Kealey

      “The event was a success and the impact we managed to create was inspiring.  It was such a wonderful experience to witness the enthusiasm of all the educators and students alike. As a corporation that spreads accessible technological solutions throughout the Island, we at Microsoft would like to work towards helping Sri Lanka’s future generation to become an ICT empowered and enterprising one. ‘Let’s TWT’ is one such initiative and we hope it will prove to be just as successful,” commented Country Manager of Microsoft – Sri Lanka and Maldives, Brian Kealey.

      Microsoft has been in Sri Lanka for the last 11 years and has initiated many partnerships and programmes to uplift the education space in Sri Lanka. Microsoft Corporation has a well-established reputation for introducing education focused software solutions. During the event in addition to O365 Education Free Plan,  the Company introduced a range of free education tools such as OneNote Class book create/ Sway/Office Mix which helps teachers deliver lessons in a much interactive way.

      “Today, the world is moving faster than ever towards a time and space centered around technology. It is vital that Sri Lanka’s future generation follow in the wake of global trends and join this future of technology powered society,” added Senior Partner in Learning Management of Microsoft, Yashinka Jayasinghe Alles.

      Speaking at the event was Country General Manager – South East Asia of Microsoft, Michelle Simmons

      Speaking at the event was Country General Manager – South East Asia of Microsoft, Michelle Simmons

      Microsoft is a pioneer in in creating new trends and technology such as cloud based technology for educators to enable Skype in Classroom – Global awareness, distance learning and global connection within a tight and secure space.

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      In a bid to introduce children around the globe to computer science, Microsoft launched the worldwide ‘Hour of Code’ campaign in Sri Lanka with ‘Hour of Code’ workshop for over 100 children at the Temple Trees on 7th December. Simply put, ‘Hour of Code’ is an introduction programme to computer science, designed to explain the importance of coding and demonstrate the basics of coding to children.

      Country Manager Microsoft - Sri Lanka & Maldives Mr. Brian Kealey

      Country Manager Microsoft – Sri Lanka & Maldives Mr. Brian Kealey

      Throughout this week, Microsoft will be conducting workshops around the world, introducing thousands of children to the Minecraft coding tutorial to celebrate the Computer Science education week from 7th to 13th December 2015. Developed in partnership with code.org, Minecraft coding tutorial introduces users to the basics of computer science within an entertaining gaming environment.

      ”This is a wonderful opportunity for Sri Lanka and its future generation. Computer science is an important part of foundational learning which will induce children to develop problem-solving skills and computational-thinking. Hour of Code, Computer Science week will be the stepping stone into the world of computing for thousands of Sri Lankan children. We at Microsoft believe that every young person should have the opportunity to learn computer science, and inherit the power to create with technology.” said Manager Community & Communications of Microsoft Sri Lanka, Janakie Karunaratne.

      Microsoft plays a key role in the global movement to encourage young people around the world to experience their first Hour of Code with Minecraft to unleash their innate potential and gain skills to create technology by participating in one of the many coding workshops conducted in over 50 countries.

      The result of collaboration between Microsoft and Code.org, Minecraft ‘Hour of Code’ tutorial guides users through basic coding skills, encouraging them to navigate, mine, craft and explore in a 2-D “Minecraft” world by plugging together blocks to complete all actions and generate computer code. Created by Minecraft game designers, the tutorial includes characters and challenges inspired by the game developed by Mojang and familiar to players around the world. Players are offered a set of 14 challenges, including free play time, to explore coding concepts they’ve learned through the tutorial. Minecraft tutorial is suitable for children as young as 6 years of age, older children as well as interested adults.

      “Microsoft can do a lot of work in a country like Sri Lanka where a lot of untapped and undiscovered talent remains hidden from view. With the launch of Hour of Code, we hope to encourage those talented girls and boys to explore their potential and take the first step to become technology disruptors of the future. We are committed to assisting budding talent to come to light,” said Country Manager of Microsoft – Sri Lanka and Maldives, Brian Kealey.

      Microsoft has a long history of supporting educators globally and remains committed to encouraging young people to engage with and learn computer science. The Company believes that all young people should have access to computer science education in order to cultivate computational-thinking and problem-solving skills that are critical for their future. Microsoft continues to work with governments, schools, businesses and non-profit organizations around the globe to achieve this end and build a generation of innovators.

      Microsoft's Hour of Code student participants & organizers

      Microsoft’s Hour of Code student participants & organizers

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        Ericsson and Dialog Axiata are partnering to make Managed Enterprise Cloud services available in the South Asian country.

        Managed Enterprise Cloud enables operators to create and provide white-label enterprise software services flexibly and effectively. Ericsson will install and integrate the Managed Enterprise Cloud framework in Dialog’s data center and manage it remotely via the Ericsson Global Service Centers. The operator’s customers access the shared enterprise services via a secure web portal.

        Ericsson and Dialog will launch the first Managed Enterprise Cloud, with a suite of business applications that can be made available as a service to enterprises in Sri Lanka.

        At launch, the available applications will include an e-mail server, a web client, a content management framework, a customer relationship management system and a content management platform in one integrated and easy to access interface. With Managed Enterprise Cloud, Dialog will be able to serve all of its enterprise customers and consolidate other third-party application offerings with one unified platform, enabling efficient provisioning and significantly improved time to market.

        Azwan Khan, Group Chief Operating Officer, Dialog Axiata, says:

        “This agreement signifies yet another innovative collaboration that aims to grow the nation’s cloud and enterprise business market segment, while in turn driving economic growth through innovative ICT advancements. Dialog has established its position as the premier connectivity solutions provider for Sri Lanka’s enterprise sector, and our strategic partnership with Ericsson will no doubt help strengthen our position.”

        Denis Brunetti, Head of Ericsson Sri Lanka, says

        “We are extremely proud to forge this strategic and innovative cloud partnership with Dialog, which aims to support Dialog’s ambition to drive innovation and create additional business value for its Enterprise customer base across Sri Lanka. Both organizations embraced the opportunity to partner and collaboratively launch Managed Enterprise Cloud services in Sri Lanka, confirming our thought and technology leadership in Managed Services and the Cloud”.

        Managed Enterprise Cloud is just one example of the ways in which Ericsson enables operators to quickly create new commercial cloud offerings that can be sold as a service. Other examples include Enterprise Mobility Management, Cloud based Push-to-Talk and Virtual Enterprise Gateway.

         

         

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          In its continuous effort to prove as a provider of quality and innovative technology solutions, Zone24x7 recently was adjudged the overall winner at this year’s National Best Quality ICT Awards (NBQSA), organized by the British Computer Society (BCS) Sri Lanka Chapter.

          Additionally the company also won the Gold award in the R & D category for its winning product AZIRO (Autonomous Inventory Robot). Developed by Zone24x7, AZIRO will go on to represent Sri Lanka at the upcoming Asia Pacific ICT Awards (APICTA) which will be held in Sri Lanka this November. Zone24x7 will be the only contestant to represent Sri Lanka in the R&D category this year.

          AZIRO competed against 11 contestants in the R & D category with over 70 plus contenders overall that represented prominent IT organizations, technology institutes and universities amongst others. AZIRO is an intelligent surface robot platform with autonomous navigation capable of performing RFID (radio-frequency identification) based inventory taking and cycle counting for retailers. RFID technology improves inventory accuracy and supply chain efficiency and in turn retailer productivity.

           

          The team at Zone24x7 seen here receiving the overall Gold award at the NBQSA 2015This recognition reflects the company’s outstanding achievements and its vast contribution to the development of ICT in the country. Dr. Sankalpa Gamwarige, Zone24x7 General Manager and VP of Engineering, said

          ‘We are proud to be recognized and adjudged the winner among many other organizations that competed in this prestigious annual awards ceremony. This showcases our talent in innovative technology solutions and ability to compete in international markets.’

          Headquartered in the heart of the Silicon Valley in San Jose, California with operations in Sri Lanka including a state-of-the-art Electronic Systems Research Lab at University of Moratuwa, Zone24x7 is a leading global provider of innovative technology solutions with established business, technology and research centers in both USA and Sri Lanka employing over 180 top notch engineers.  While North America (United States and Canada) remains the major market for Zone24x7 the company has recently expanded its customer base to United Kingdom and Norway as well.

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            Reproduced via IEEE.lk

            “Enumero” is a technical workshop that brings the three main chapters titled as IEEE Power and Energy society (PES), IEEE Robotics and Automation society (RAS) and IEEE Computer society (CS) of IEEE University of Moratuwa together. Enumero had the utmost intention of accrediting the technological knowledge of undergraduates, and it lead to expose several aspects of modern technology with the collaboration of the IEEE members. The successful event caused IEEE University of Moratuwa Student Branch to claim their second consecutive IEEE Darrel Chong Student activity award after winning the Silver award for CodeExpertz 1.0.

            Enumero 2014 has provided the best solutions to improve the practical aspects of the students who are with the thirst of newest trending technologies. It was done via three parallel sessions of Hackerspace, Robozone and Electrica. Expertise intellectuals conducted those sessions. Hackerspace was a kind of an overview of the real problems in telecommunication industry and the human hacking techniques. Robozone was followed by three lectures under Quadcopters, UAVs, MEMS, NEMS and prosthetic technology. The remaining session, Electrica focused on the future trends of the electrical industry. The event was winded up with the Flight 93 gaming session, which helped to uplift the collaboration among members of IEEE student Branch and to expose the analytical skills of the participants and volunteers.

            Success of Enumero 2014 has led to hold Enumero 2015 in this year. The success behind the event was the team effort and the commitment of the volunteers of IEEE student branch of University of Moratuwa. Since it was a novel workshop, each and every volunteer had to face different kinds of challenges that came across. So it was a huge platform for them to improve their confidence and management skills and also to sharpen inter personal capabilities through organizing such a session. Significance of Enumero is that, it brought all the different disciplines like Robotics, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Engineering to a single manifesto where students of different interests could fulfill those aspects and also step in to be experts in their relevant fields.

            Enumero 2014 won the title “Darrel Chong Student Activity Award” in the Gold Category due to the quality of the activity and for the attempt to foster knowledge sharing among students. The purpose of this recognition serves to change the mindset of student groups, from being number-driven, to becoming value-driven and to acknowledge excellent student activities around the world. Ultimately this achievement will improve student-membership growth as well. IEEE student branch of University of Moratuwa has the sole pride of celebrating their accomplishment in organizing exemplary student activities, which is reflected back through the Darrel Chong Student Activity Award.

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            ‘Sinhala for iOS’ is a keyboard extension for iOS that brings Sinhala language input to Apple iPhone and iPad devices.

            Apple announced the ability to develop custom keyboards for its mobile devices in 2014. This made it possible to bring Sinhala language text input to all Apple devices running the latest version of their operating system.

            Sinhala for iOS brings the best in class Sinhala language input with a design supporting standard Wijesekera layout and SLSI 1134 standard character input. It’s also powered by a smart algorithm that makes it easier to type Sinhala characters by identifying natural typing styles.

            ipad-screenshots.002ipad-screenshots.004iphone-screenshots.005

            Sinhala for iOS is now available for $12.99 in the United States and is priced accordingly in other regions. The app is available for download on http://appstore.com/sinhalaforios.

            Sinhala for iOS is developed by xinterium and Bhagya Silva

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              Sri Lanka’s leading software services and Aviation solutions specialist was awarded at Global Commerce Excellence Awards initiated by CBSL Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal.

              Celebrating its third consecutive year, The prestigious Global Commerce Excellence Awards was held in December 2014 at Galadari Hotel initiated and guided by the Central Bank of Sri  Lanka (CBSL) Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal. JKCS;  the Software services arm of John Keells Holdings was recognized at the ceremony amongst the chosen leading commercial entities in Sri Lanka for its outstanding contribution in support of the country’s economy during the war stricken period.

              The bi-annual event is a platform established to recognize the companies, institutions and banks including the public sector along with individuals who have contributed in a large scale to support the country’s GDP growth. The concept is a brain child of the CBSL Governor established after the 30 year conflict  in appreciation of both local and foreign entities and individuals operating for revenue generation in support of the economy prior to 2009. Over 100 such organizations and individuals are nominated each year at the event.

              JKCS was acknowledged for its contribution to the growth in Sri Lanka’s IT/BPO sector. Actively engaging in Resourcing and Software Development services the company is also an acknowledged regional leader in Aviation and passenger services solutions catering to a wide spectrum of airlines and Airports worlwide. JKCS was also the Overall Gold winners of BCS National Best Quality Software Awards back in 2012.

              “I thank sincerely the Governer of CBSL Mr. Cabraal and the initiators of this event  for creating a platform which inspires companies like us to set our benchmarks higher constantly and I believe the event captures the essence of commercial activity in Sri Lanka like no other. Said JC Ekanayake (CEO of JKCS), “It is a great honor to be receiving this award on behalf of JKCS, and we are looking forward to sharing this stage in the coming years with the outstanding commercial bodies in the country.” He further added.

              2014’s edition of the ceremony was in special commemoration of Sri Lankan exporters of multiple sectors including, bankers, service providers, state institutions providing trade facilitation, news and business magazines, brands, investors and individuals related to global commerce excellence.

              Coordinated by the Shippers’ Academy Colombo, CBSL’s Initiative was supported by the EDB, BOI,  SLPA AASL, and Gem and Jewellery Authority.

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                US based global strategy consulting firm shares knowledge on local opportunities

                This year Stax, a global strategy consulting firm, headquartered in Boston, USA is celebrating its 10th year of operations in Sri Lanka.

                Stax’s CEO Rafi Musher, together with its Managing Director Ruwindhu Peiris and Director Dr. Kumudu Gunasekera, discussed Stax’s history in Sri Lanka, the investment outlook for Sri Lanka and the Asian region as a whole, and the importance of positioning one’s business for emerging investment opportunities.

                According to Rafi Musher, Stax provides data-driven and actionable insights to help global companies drive growth. With a 20 year track record of providing clients with strategic advice on profit improvement and M&A, Stax has become a formidable force in the strategy consulting space, competing directly with the big three global consulting firms (Boston Consulting Group, Bain, and McKinsey) and, boasting an impressive list of clients that includes 14 of the top 20 private equity firms and 27 fortune 500 companies.

                “Global companies hire us to help drive growth because we provide actionable insights. Stax brings best practices on growth and profit improvement and we are in your backyard,” Musher said.

                Rafi Musher, CEO of Stax

                Rafi Musher, CEO of Stax

                Musher explained how the caliber of people and promise of untapped resources drove him to establish Stax Colombo back in 2005.

                “The cross country team structure enables a 24 hour cycle with fully integrated teams, which uniquely positions us to bring far more content to clients. The Colombo office is not a KPO; the emphasis has always been on value arbitrage and not cost arbitrage. The good thing is that this sharing of knowledge and expertise goes in both directions. Our Sri Lanka office can provide great content and insights to the US teams about a variety of industries, regions, and by using sophisticated research and analytic techniques. And the US teams can similarly provide our Sri Lanka office and Southeast Asian clients’ expertise on industry trends, best practices and how to identify profit opportunities. I personally work with colleagues in Colombo as I would in Boston or Chicago.”

                We believe that multi-generation family businesses and increased private equity investment in the region will contribute to growth further. Family businesses with additional generations in the office are expanding their areas of interest.  Private equity firms around the world are looking to capitalise on the economic growth and investment opportunities in the region, with the average Asia-focused funds size growing steadily over the last few years to reach $422M in 2014 (compared to a low of $197M in 2009).  Additionally, dry powder, which refers to private equity funds available for investment, currently stands at $129B, indicating opportunities for corporations and growing family run businesses to take advantage of this significant investment pool to leverage for growth.

                “Knowing where you can win now, where you can win later and what to avoid entirely, creates substantive value. Whether you are an executive or investor.  This is the reason large and middle sized company executive teams call on Stax, and why major private equity firms call on Stax.”

                Echoing the CEO’s statements, Dr. Kumudu Gunasekera, discussed the importance of positioning one’s firm for attracting investment.

                Many companies perceive lack of funds as an impediment to growth and often look to raise funds through either debt financing or an IPO. However, this might not be the best option for a firm at a given time. It is important for a business to evaluate where its current opportunities lie, and to then assess which funding options can best grow the business, Dr. Gunasekera said.

                He also stressed the importance of exploring other avenues of funding such as private equity investment rather than immediately listing a firm on the CSE. The influx of smart capital will allow a well-established company listing that will garner a higher valuation. Having a mature, well-positioned listing in the CSE is important for the company as well as the CSE.

                Dr. Kumudhu Gunasekera, Director of Stax

                Dr. Kumudhu Gunasekera, Director of Stax

                “There is a misconception that all capital is equal,” Dr. Gunasekera continued.  Stax’s goal for clients is to attract smart capital which not only brings in funding, but also provides industry expertise, geographic reach, access to wider supply and sales network, and drive toward exit at a higher valuation.

                “Investors want to put money into companies that have a strong strategic road map and vision. Stax can help position your firm as an attractive investment opportunity for future investors by helping you understand and prioritize a strategic vision,” Dr. Gunasekera said.

                He also discussed how many companies with strong growth potential often fail to capitalise on opportunities as they are reluctant to trade equity. Trading equity for smart capital can position a firm for higher growth and a higher valuation in the longer term. Identifying and attracting smart capital is vital, given the large amounts of dry powder in the market, he added.

                Ruwindhu Peiris discussed what this meant in the corporate context.

                With significant untapped opportunities in the region, there are a number of strategies local companies can adopt to achieve substantially more growth in short order. Not all growth has to come from funding; sometimes the opportunities lie internally, and part of Stax’s approach is to help clients assess opportunities within the firm, and recommend operational improvements that can lift the margins and bottom line, Mr. Peiris said. This profit improvement creates extra capital to deploy for additional opportunities, accelerating value creation.

                In any field Stax can help a business to:

                • Identify most attractive adjacent and new market opportunities
                • Help clients create solutions and services that align with current and emerging customer needs and market trends
                • Use analytics to optimise operations and improve incremental profit

                “High growth industries in the region like Tourism, Healthcare and Retail are abundantly rich in untapped data assets that hold insights to accelerate growth and optimize spend.  Stax solutions such as “High-Yield Segment Targeting”, “Media Spend Optimisation” and “Revenue Maximising Pricing” have helped global companies unlock actionable insights from their data assets and deliver tangible results in under six months“

                Peiris went on to describe specific areas of opportunities in each of these high growth industries.

                Millennials (those born after 1980) are entering their peak earning years and currently account for around one-third of all business travel expenses. In the next 5-10 years they will provide the majority of spending for travel and leisure.  Being tech-savvy, they rely heavily on online information sources and are sophisticated travelers who carefully plan their trips.  With “High-Yield Segment Targeting” companies in the leisure sector can engage with potential guests online at different stages of their travel with the winning messaging to reach the right audience at the right time.

                Retail spend in the region is also on an accelerated growth path, with the emergence of Asia’s middle class.  Stax’s work with global retailers has shown that most retailers tend to overprice, as well as under-price several items within their key product categories—essentially leaving millions of dollars on the table.  There is a great opportunity for retailers in the region to leapfrog on strategies already tried and tested in the West in optimising the thin margins in this industry by using data analytics from “test and learn” platforms to tweak most effective promotions and loyalty plans.