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zMessenger, Sri Lanka’s award winning integrated mobile media company, gained international recognition as their mobile interactive learning tool ‘Learn English with the British Council’ was selected as a Finalist at the prestigious ‘mBillionth Awards South Asia’.
Out of 209 applicants from the region, zMessenger is the only Sri Lankan company to be selected in the Finalist category of this year’s mBillionth Awards.
zMessenger’s ‘Learn English with the British Council’ is a simplified, interactive medium through which users can test and practice their English language skills through their mobile phone. This unique service allows users to learn conversational English using technologies such as SMS, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) and Video, by providing essential language learning tips for all levels of learners.
The service then lets British Council language experts to provide feedback to users on their performance. ‘English with the British Council’ is currently offered by Dialog, Mobitel, Etisalat and Hutch.
Speaking about the background to ‘Learn English with the British Council,’ CEO of zMessenger Jayomi Lokuliyana stated: “Sri Lanka has always had a high demand for fluency and competency in the English language. English is given much importance in a person’s career, such as at job interviews and promotions, while also building confidence and personality. It plays a big role in general socialising and acceptance in society.”
She added that with such socio-economic factors, learning English or investing in learning is perceived to be an extremely important aspect amongst the general public. “Globally, we are in an era where mobile phones have become widespread among the common man. It is no different here in Sri Lanka with over 20 million mobile users across the island. Therefore, mobile phones have become probably the most effective method of communicating and passing information,” she added.
“It must be noted that the majority of electronic communication takes place in English and hence the knowledge and competency in English is vital. Given this scenario, the ‘Learn English with the British Council’ medium taps successfully into both these key factors and provide a user-friendly, interactive, cost-effective and convenient mechanism for learning English,” she further stated.
zMessenger most recently was selected as the Winner in the ‘e-Learning and Education’ Category at the ‘e-Swabhimani 2012,’ an initiative of the Information Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) aimed at recognising excellence in digital content creation.
Elaborating further about the product, Product Manager of zMessenger Upekha Abeyratne stated: “‘Learn English with the British Council’ has been able to help people, especially the youth from the cities and rural areas of the country, to learn and improve their English Language skills. 75% of the subscribers are out of Colombo in areas such as Jaffna, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Trincomalee, Vavuniya, Ampara, Badulla, etc.”
She added that the product uses very simple methods, using easy to understand content and testing techniques, while the product’s interactive nature has enhanced subscribers’ engagement with the service.
“Most importantly, ‘English with the British Council’ has shifted Sri Lanka’s perception towards the mobile phone from being a mere communication device to a valuable learning platform with remarkable possibilities. Overall, this mobile learning platform has changed the way in which people look at mobile Value Added Services,” she added.
zMessenger will be participating at the final judging of the mBillionth awards night on the 18th July at Nehru Place, New Delhi. Open to all countries in the SAARC region, mBillionth Awards is an integrated platform for recognising innovations in telecom and mobile content, applications and models. The mBillionth Awards acknowledges South Asia as a key hub of the world’s mobile and telecom market in terms of penetration and innovation, and promotes the best of mobile-based implementations in the region.

Source: DailyFT

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In Silicon Valley, the term “visionary” is so routinely applied to folks who are merely bright and clever that it’s lost most of its meaning. But when Douglas Engelbart died at his home in Atherton, Calif on Tuesday, at the age of 88, we lost someone so brilliantly forward-looking that calling him a visionary almost seems like an understatement.

Engelbart is best known as the inventor of the computer mouse, but leaving it at that is like praising Orville and Wilbur Wright for their pioneering role in the history of propellers. He began his computer research in the 1950s and ended up at the Stanford Research Institute (now known as SRI). In the 1960s, at a time when human interaction with computers was conducted largely by means of punch cards–and most of the humans doing the interacting were computer scientists–Engelbart saw computers as a way for human beings to augment their intellect. Then he set about building the necessary tools to make that not only possible, but easy.

The mouse–and the whole concept of manipulating on-screen elements by pointing at them–mattered hugely. But so did his SRI lab’s groundbreaking work on bitmapped displays, hypertext and other man-to-machine technologies. The research efforts he led jumpstarted the revolution which inspired the graphical user into interface developed at Xerox’s PARC in the 1970s and commercialized by Apple, Microsoft and other companies in the 1980s. Even today, researchers working on the future of personal technology continue to feast on ideas which Engelbart was thinking about more than a half-century ago.

At a December 1968 conference in San Francisco, he showed attendees his current work, which included a windowed user interface, interactive document editing, networked resources, videoconferencing and, of course, a mouse. Justly nicknamed the “mother of all demos,” it must have been mind-blowing at the time, fifteen years before the first Apple Macintosh brought some (but not all) of his concepts into homes and offices. It’s still about the most intense tour-de-force of raw creativity and innovation that the tech world has ever seen. Lucky for us, the whole thing was filmed for posterity:

Engelbart was able to see things that most people couldn’t, and make them real. But he was also a passionate believer in what he called Collective IQ–the ability of teams to do things that lone guns cannot. In recent years, he advocated for that vision at his Doug Engelbart Institute, which he co-founded with his daughter Christina.  I’ll miss seeing him at conferences and other events around the valley, but his monuments are all around us–on our desktops, in our hands and everywhere else that humans use technology to augment their intelligence.

Source: By Harry McCracken for Time magazine

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Sri Lanka Telecom PLC, the nation’s number one integrated communications service provider and the leading broadband and backbone infrastructure services provider yesterday announced the achievement of the globally recognised information security management standard, ISO/IEC 27001:2005 awarded by the world renowned certification body, Bureau Veritas.
The company received this accreditation for the third consecutive time on 8 April 2013.
The ISO 27001, which is the most stringent certification for information security controls, guarantees that ample information security controls and other forms of risk management are in place to enable an organisation to assess its risk and implement appropriate controls to preserve confidentiality, integrity and availability of information assets. The certification also ensures that the maintenance for customer services meet international standards. The scope of certification spans across the company’s IT operations including systems administration, billing, operational support systems, system development, network & end user support, network operations such as SLT NOC and island-wide broadband network operations including IP-VPN/MPLS/data services and internet service provider (SLTNET) broadband services, internet data centre (SLT iDC), network management and network security, disaster recovery centre and core support services such as power and AC operations and physical security management.
This accreditation verifies that the ISO 27001:2005 information security standard is now an integral component of core IT and network operations within SLT and ensures compliance with ISMS policies, procedures and the institutionalisation of ISO standard practices across the entire organisation.
Sri Lanka Telecom is the first company incorporated in Sri Lanka to achieve this security standard as well as to be listed in the prestigious Information Security Management System (ISMS) Registry since 2006.
Commenting on this achievement, SLT PLC Group CEO Lalith De Silva said: “This is a significant achievement for SLT and demonstrates our continuous focus on improving our business and processes, especially in relation to our IT operations, which will give further assurance to our customers of the international standards maintained by our company in providing our services. As the national telecom service provider in the country, we embraced the responsibility to be first in the country to achieve this security standard with the expectation that our customers and employees will reap the benefits of this in the years to come.”

Source: DailyFT

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Approximately every decade, technology delivery undergoes a tectonic shift that changes the consumption of technology and the value that it can bring. Today, mobility, Big Data, and the advent of cloud computing offer new ways for IT to help organizations accelerate progress in solving their most pressing challenges—speeding innovation, enhancing agility, and improving financial management.
Cloud computing is a key component of an organization’s ability to gain unencumbered access to information technology—to access “Infrastructure Anywhere, Applications Anywhere, Information Anywhere,” or better said: “Services Anywhere.” In order to deliver on the “Services Anywhere” promise, organizations will need to think differently about IT. No longer will IT be solely a builder of internal infrastructure and services. IT will also need to obtain or use third-party and external services. The key will be understanding the unique requirements of each service, such as availability, cost, performance, and regulatory needs, and then addressing them in the most efficient and cost-effective way. This will be done by creating the right mix of on-premise and off-premise services that leverage the best of traditional IT, and private, managed, and public clouds—a hybrid delivery environment.
“HP’s is clearly the most established leader in the cloud computing space. There are already more than 1,000 HP CloudSystem users, 6,000 HP Public Cloud users, more than 130 Cloud Centers of Excellence with partners and more than 80 CloudAgile partners.
In addition, HP also does cloud hosting for more than 200 customers and more than 40% of the Fortune 100 companies use HP Converged cloud.”
Cloud Computing is a perfect match for big data since cloud computing provides unlimited resources on demand. While two years ago, Cloud computing was appealing mainly because of its “pay per use” model (ideal in tough economic times), today, it is becoming more important because it is the enabler of big data analytics.
As a quick review, big data is a collection of data sets that are so big that it is hard to collect, analyze, visualize, and process using regular software such are relational database management systems.  Moreover, this data is typically unstructured. A recent study indicates that unstructured data account for at least 80% of the world’s data. This means that many companies today are making mission critical decisions with only 20% of the data they have, the 20% of data that is structured and stored in relational databases.
Now it is possible to manage this vast amount of data, structured and unstructured. When we talk about big data, we not only refer to existing data that have been collected for years. We also talk about huge amounts of data being generated because of social media, mobile devices, sensors, and other technologies. The disruption caused by the mobility explosion has reshaped the IT landscape more dramatically than any other technology since the PC revolution of the early 1980s. HP has a broad mobility portfolio, beginning with handheld devices and compatible software aimed at mobile users, and moving up to both fixed and wireless capabilities that enable users to have controlled access in BYOD environments. HP offers software tools that are strongly positioned for mobility, and in its services area, the company provides advisory and consulting services around mobile strategy.
Big Data and Mobility go hand in hand. With an increasing number of connected devices, the ‘Internet of Things’ presents us with a huge range of opportunities based on the possibility that objects are able to interact with each other. These connected devices are also building up banks of data, and this data needs to be put to good use

Big Data and Mobility go hand in hand.
Big Data is deeply correlated with connectivity and mobility – they go hand in hand. With an increasing number of connected devices, the ‘Internet of Things’ presents us with a huge range of opportunities based on the possibility that objects are able to interact with each other. These connected devices are also building up banks of data, and this data needs to be put to good use. For example, connecting cars to smart parking systems in order to reduce gas wastage, or correlating your blood pressure, sleep and activity levels to help you lose weight are just two possibilities that come with the increase of connectivity, and they rely on your data. Similarly, understanding large amounts data can be help to fuel and improve services in the mobility space. The increasing ubiquity of smartphones has meant that brands have to account for a new set of consumer behaviours, as well as their higher expectations, and Big Data can help brands to identify patterns. People want to consume more and more while they’re on the go, opening up new gaps that demand new mobility solutions.

Source: DailyFT

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The venture investor and former Facebook executive examines technologies he thinks will improve the quality of life and economic output—and explains why most executives undervalue technical proficiency.

“Technology will disrupt every facet of every job,” says Chamath Palihapitiya, the former Facebook executive turned venture investor. For executives, he argues, it isn’t enough just to understand the technologies, such as sensors and autonomous vehicles, that will have an outsized impact on improving the quality of life and economic output. New waves of technological disruption will probably blindside executives who don’t build technical proficiency into the way they manage their organizations. This interview was conducted by James Manyika, a director in McKinsey’s San Francisco office. What follows is an edited transcript of Palihapitiya’s remarks.

Interview transcript

Three technologies to watch

I’ll tell you the three things that I’m most excited by. The first is sensor networks. I’m extremely excited about that. The second is actually this push towards automated transportation. And the third is around a very specific application of big data.

So for the first example, what we’re seeing now is sensors everywhere. And before, sensors were when people thought, “Oh, is that an RFID1 chip?” No. It’s your phone, which has like 19 different things that it could be measuring at any given time. It’s clothing that you’re wearing, it’s a Nike FuelBand, a Fitbit, whatever. But the point is, the number of physical sensors are just exploding in scale. They’re in the roads, they’re in the air, they’re on your body, they’re in the phone, what have you.

And as that happens, what we’re going to see are extremely explicit ways of improving one’s quality of life, one’s economic output, in really tangible and simple ways. So I’ll give you a very simple example. There’s a great little company that’s built a sensor that sits on top of an asthma inhaler. So why is that important? Well, there’s like 30 or 40 million people that unfortunately have to deal with asthma. And when you think about the cost of asthma as a health-care problem within the United States alone, it’s $40 to $50 billion when you measure all the emergency-room visits, et cetera.

And why are people going to the emergency room? Well, it’s because they don’t have a fundamental understanding of when they should be using their inhaler proactively. So what does this sensor do? This sensor measures the time and the date of when you last used your inhaler, and then it measures all this environmental data. “Where are you? What’s the pollen count? Tell me what the weather looks like.”

And then it starts to build this heuristic model. And then it starts to paint it forward and say, “Oh my gosh, tomorrow is a bad day. Take a preventative dose. Do this more often; don’t do that.” What happens? You don’t have these massive attacks. The point is, these sensor networks will drive tremendous value and efficiency for people. And I think we’re not yet ready to really understand the totality of that impact, but it’s going to touch every facet of our lives. So that’s one area that I’m extremely excited by.

The second is really what Google is pioneering in the autonomous-vehicle space. It is probably the one thing that I’ve seen that could fundamentally have the high-order-bit2 effect on GDP. You can completely reenvision cities, transportation models, and commerce with all these autonomous vehicles, with the ability to ship goods.

So you can imagine a fleet of small electric cars that deliver all mail. A fleet of drones that drops off parcels from Amazon, Walmart, and Target, right to your doorstep. A fleet of trucks that doesn’t cause traffic and congestion. An entire fleet of city vehicles paid for and bought by a state or by a city that provides public transportation in a predictable way. All these things have massive impacts to commerce and the mobility of individuals. And I think it’s not well understood.

And then the last idea is that big data is kind of like this stupid buzz word—like “growth hacking,” frankly—where you’re really talking about just creating more noise and not enough signals. But in the specific case of genetics, I think we’re making an extremely important shift, which is shifting the burden away from biologists to computer scientists.

Because when you sequence an entire genome, what you’re really doing is spitting out a 4 GB to 5 GB flat file of codes, which can be interpreted, where you can build machine learning—supervised or not—to intuit things, to make connections, to find correlations, to hopefully find causality. And across a broad population of people, you have the ability to use computer science to solve some of the most intricate problems of biology and life.

And so I suspect in the next 10 to 15 years, you’re going to see these massive advances there, where it will literally be a group of computer scientists who basically say, “If you express the BRCA1 breast cancer gene, here’s the protocol that we’ve seen across a wide population of women that actually prevents the onset of breast cancer.” Amazing.

Managing disruption

The single most important thing, in my opinion, is the management, the rewards, and the development of human capital. Now, people say that all the time, though: “Oh, of course, it’s all about people.” But I think now the framework for what that means can be better understood.

If we think about all these things that we’ve talked about, there’s an arc of quantitative understanding that is lacking in a lot of companies. There’s an arc of technical proficiency that’s lacking in most companies. There’s an arc of rewards and recognition that tends to lag and tends to not feed the top 1 percent or 5 percent but tends to manage to the middle. Those are extremely inherent biases that have existed in companies for decades.

But when you see the few companies that get it right, what they’ve done is they’ve disrupted those three specific things. They’ll say, “OK, you know what? It’s all about the top 1 percent. Everyone else, tough luck. We celebrate the best, and everybody else can tag along. We cull the bottom, and we’re super aggressive. We have an extremely deep quantitative understanding of our business. We know how to optimize it, we know how to think long term about it, and we make long-term tradeoffs every day for the future long-term defensibility and success.

And everyone is rooted with a technical understanding, because technology will disrupt every facet of every job as expressed by all these people in my company. So unless they’re adept at seeing it before I am, by the time they filter it up to me as a CEO or president, it’s too late. Because what am I doing? I’m glad-handing with people, I’m having random meetings. Everyone’s telling me everything is great, until it’s not.”

Speaking JavaScript

I believe very strongly in the value of technology, its ability to sort of improve productivity. The problem with many of the productivity gains that we see in the economy today is they actually leave more people behind, in many ways, than they pull forward. So one way to think about that is that as more and more things become technological by definition—less mechanical and more technological—you actually need more technical people. And so the way to think about that is, for example, when you think about education. Education today teaches you social science, it teaches you philosophy, it teaches you English, it teaches you math. But we don’t view technological understanding, or the knowledge of a framework, as the equivalent of understanding any other language.

So if we thought it was really important for everyone in the United States to speak English, and hopefully for a large majority maybe to speak Spanish, why shouldn’t people understand how to “speak” JavaScript? I don’t know. And how do you think about now graduating or matriculating millions and millions of kids who “speak” technology as proficiently as they speak a verbal language?

And probably what you find is, if you actually had knowledge of a technical language, you would probably “speak” that language more in your daily life than the actual verbal language. I think coding is the blue-collar job of the 21st century. There’s nothing wrong with that. We are in a world right now where these abstractions are getting so good. What it meant to code 10 or 15 years ago when I was learning was actually a very difficult premise, in my opinion.

These are extremely low-level languages. You’re dealing with hardware in a way that you don’t have to, today. We’re so well abstracted that, in four or five years, my children will code by drawing things on a page and it will translate it into code. So what it means “to code” is becoming a simpler definition, which means by extension that more people should be able to do it.

So it is the type of thing that I think is universally translatable. Learn to code; everything else is secondary. College doesn’t matter that much. It is the most important job of the next hundred years.

About the authors

Chamath Palihapitiya is founder and managing partner of The Social+Capital Partnership. This interview was conducted by James Manyika, a director in McKinsey’s San Francisco office.

Source: McKinsey