5 Most Influential Women in Tech

There may not be enough women within the technology industry. But the women who are involved, have risen to prominent positions despite the challenges they have faced. These women have blazed the path for others to follow more easily.

In line with women’s month, we want to honour these women who have provided inspiration. And prove that no matter what you face, if you are hardworking and dedicated, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Women in the technology field have and still are making a significant impact and bringing about that much-needed change and diversity.

5 Most Influential Women in Tech

Grace Hopper, computer scientist and programmer

“Humans are allergic to change. They love to say, “We’ve always done it this way.” I try to fight that. That’s why I have a clock on my wall that runs counterclockwise.” Grace Hopper

Rear Admiral Grace Hopper was a pioneer within the technology industry with her work leading to the development of COBOL. She was one of the first three modern programmers. And was one of the first computer programmers to work on the Harvard Mark1 (IBM Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator)

Another claim to fame is that she is said to be responsible for the phrase “It is often easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.” And perhaps more women need to take that on board.

Radia Perlman, The Mother of the Internet

“The world would be a better place if more engineers, like me, hated technology. The stuff I design, if I’m successful, nobody will ever notice. Things will just work and will be self-managing.” Radia Perlman

Raida Perlman is often referred to as the “Mother of the Internet”. As she is responsible for the algorithm behind the Spanning Tree Protocol (STP). Which was instrumental in making the Internet a possibility. Her research has made an impact on how networks organise themselves and move data. Providing the basic rules of internet traffic.

She now works as a programmer and engineer for Dell EMC and is a sought-after keynote speaker. Radia was a Fellow at Sun Microsystems and has received Lifetime Achievement awards from USENIX and the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Data Communication. She has also lectured at the University of Washington, Harvard University, and MIT.

Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube

“Though we do need more women to graduate with technical degrees, I always like to remind women that you don’t need to have science or technology degrees to build a career in tech.” Susan Wojcicki

When it comes to women in tech, Susan Wojcicki is right up there. Because she has made both Forbes’s Self-made Women’s list (2022) and their Power Women’s list (2021). In 1998 Susan rented out her garage to Google co-founders Sergy Brin and Larry Page. And this is where they developed Google’s search engine.

She was hired as their 16th employee in 1999 and was involved with everything from AdSense and Google Analytics through to Google Books and Images. In 2006 she saw a gap in the market and was the driving force behind the acquisition of YouTube which she has run since 2014.

Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Girls Who Code

“I want the next generation of Mark Zuckerbergs and Jack Dorseys to be women.” Reshma Saujani

Reshma Saujani’s focus has been around building movements to fight for the economic empowerment of women and girls. One of her goals has been to increase the number of women in computer science and close the gender gap within the technology field. She believes that if you teach one girl to code, she will teach four and as a result, she formed the non-profit organisation Girls Who Code

She has authored many books. Especially known for her New York Times bestseller Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the world. As well as her TED talk “Teach women bravery, not perfection.”

Kate Crawford, co-founder of the AI Now Institute

“Sexism, racism, and other forms of discrimination are being built into the machine-learning algorithms that underlie the technology behind many ‘intelligent’ systems that shape how we are categorised and advertised to.” Kate Crawford

Kate Crawford has spent the majority of her career trying to understand the benefits and the dangers of AI and machine learning. Her book, Atlas of AI: Power, Politics, and the Planetary Costs of Artificial Intelligence has provided a different perspective on AI leading which has led to increased debate. She is a thought leader on the social and political implications of AI. This means she has spent most of her career focusing on understanding large-scale data systems, machine learning, and AI within a wider context.

Conclusion

We think Melinda Gates says it best – “When we invest in women and girls, we are investing in the people who invest in everyone else.”

Women in Technology – far too few!!

There is one thing we can all agree on, there are far too few women in technology. Although the statistics don’t look great, there is progress. And if the past 2 years have taught us anything, change is the only certainty.

Women in Technology

The Statistics

According to Women in Tech ZA, “Only 23% of tech jobs are held by women in South Africa – out of 236 000 ICT (tech) roles, women occupy 56 000 of them.” That is an unbelievably low number. But when it comes to addressing gender imbalance within the technology sector, South Africa is not alone.

Globally only 24% of tech jobs are held by women. Although companies like Apple, Facebook and Google have tried to narrow the gender gap and create more diversity, the numbers still don’t come close with on average only 30% of their workforce being women.

When we start delving into the executive side of the tech industry. Sadly the numbers are not reflective of the skills women bring to the table. Especially when you consider that tech companies led by women, performed on average three times better than those with male CEOs – according to Fortune magazine.

Looking at Fortune 500 companies, only 5 of the 41 companies in the technology sector have women CEOs. Women hold a mere 14.3% of the board seats at tech companies and only 11% of executive positions at Silicon Valley companies.

Changing Perceptions

It’s all down to changing perceptions of both men and women! According to PeerJ Computer Science, computer code that had been written by women was accepted around 80% of the time on GitHub. This was actually 4% more than code written by men. However, that was only when the coder’s gender was kept secret. When contributors’ gender could be identified, men’s code was accepted at a higher rate.

Changing perceptions of women may take some time. But with the rapid increase in digital transformation, there will be many new opportunities available to women. Flexibility has always been attractive to working mothers. Fortunately, many roles in the technology sector lend themselves to remote working providing that much-needed flexibility.

Education

Technology has been a male-dominated industry. One of the ways to change that is by educating young women about the many exciting roles that are available within the industry. Reshma Saujani is the founder of Girls Who Code. Which is a non-profit organisation whose goal is to close the gender imbalance in technology. She believes, “By teaching our girls to code, we’re not just preparing them to enter the workforce — we’re preparing them to lead it.”

Here in South Africa, we have our very own Girlcode whose objective is to empower 10 million women and girls with tech skills by 2030.

Changing the Gender Imbalance

August is women’s month and perhaps it’s time to look at things differently. Addressing and changing the gender imbalance should not be about ensuring companies employ equal numbers of men and women. It should be about ensuring that women are provided with equal opportunities to choose their career paths, receive the same growth prospects and be paid equally regardless of their gender.

POPIA – Everything you need to know

POPIA - Everything you need to know

 

It’s been 2 years since POPIA (Protection of Personal Information Act, 2013) came into effect on the 1st of July 2020. As all businesses know, data is one of your most valuable assets. And you need to ensure that you do not unintentionally fall foul of the Act.

The Act serves to protect everyone’s right to privacy. By regulating the processing of personal information by public and private bodies. This includes unlawful collection, retention and dissemination, and use of any data subject’s personal information.

 

What does this mean for your business?

As a business, you need to comply with the 8 conditions that set out the minimum requirements of processing information. These are as follows:

 

Accountability simply refers to the fact that as a business you are accountable for complying with the Act.

Processing limitation stipulates that personal information must be processed lawfully and in a reasonable manner that does not infringe on the privacy of the data subject.

Purpose specification defines that personal information can only be collected for a specific purpose and that the data subject is aware of that purpose, it also advises that you can’t retain the information longer than is necessary.

Security safeguards are another key area. As a business, you need to ensure that you have safety measures in place to protect the information you collect. This extends to any third party that processes information on your behalf.

 

Information quality refers to your responsibility to ensure that you have taken reasonable and practical steps to ensure that the relevant personal information is complete, accurate, not misleading, and updated accordingly.

Openness is where you are required to maintain documentation of all your relevant processing operations as per the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA). This relates to ensuring that you have taken reasonable steps to ensure that the data subject is aware of the information being collected, the purpose of the information collection, etc.

Further processing limitation is where additional processing of personal information may occur, in these instances, you need to ensure that it is still in line with the original purpose for which it was collected.

Data subject participation is where data subjects can request to have their information updated or deleted.

 

Implementation of POPIA

Businesses need to appoint an Information Officer who is responsible for POPIA compliance. The Information Officer deals with any privacy requests and is also responsible for interacting with the Information Regulator.

When it comes to your client’s personal information there are two key changes. The first change is around consent – before you can save any of your client’s information, you will need their consent. The second key change is how you store your client’s information. You need to be able to prove at any given time that this information is stored securely. And that it’s only used for the purpose you initially collected it for.

Data that is stored in a central secure location is easier to manage. So many businesses make use of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) Systems to fulfill this function. Reminders can be set to ensure data is kept up to date, deleted after a certain period (if required) and access can be limited to certain individuals within a business. Gone are the days when employees save clients’ information onto their devices that anyone within the business can access.  

Even something as simple as printing out a client’s personal information has its pitfalls. Businesses that need to print out personal information have implemented security codes on their printers so that client information does not lie forgotten on a printer.

What does POPIA mean for consumers?

The biggest change for consumers is that POPIA has provided consumers with rights when it comes to their personal information. The Act passes control to consumers in terms of who has access to their personal information, as well as how it is stored and used. Consumers now have the right to access, correct, and delete information businesses may have of theirs.

Businesses can’t store your information without your consent, and they cannot store your information for longer than necessary.

The Act doesn’t however, prevent any businesses from performing their duties or functions in terms of the law.

Conclusion

POPIA places responsibility on businesses to ensure they are compliant. However, consumers need to educate themselves on their rights as they now have more control over their data.

The next time you receive an unsolicited call from a business, be sure to find out where/how they got your information. And if you no longer want their calls, be sure to tell them to remove your details from their database.

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What is Industry 4.0?

Industry 4.0

There is a lot of talk around Industry 4.0, but is it something we need to be looking at? 

Industry 4.0 is simply the buzzword for the 4th Industrial Revolution. In other words, revolutions are driven by innovation and previous revolutions dramatically changed the way industries worked and produced goods. As a result, with Industry 4.0, we are seeing an incredible increase in digital transformation through the adoption and integration of the latest technologies.

Futurist Daniel Burrus probably describes it best – “The general definition of Industry 4.0 is the rise of digital industrial technology … Industry 4.0 transformations allow us to work alongside machines in new, highly productive ways.

Industry 4.0 and Digital Transformation

Digitally transforming the way businesses manufacture, evaluate and improve their processes, as well as how they distribute their products, is what Industry 4.0 is all about.

According to SAP,” Industry 4.0 is built on nine technology pillars. These innovations bridge the physical and digital worlds and make smart and autonomous systems possible.”

  • Big Data and AI Analytics
  • Horizontal and vertical integration
  • Cloud computing
  • Augmented Reality (AR)
  • Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)
  • Additive manufacturing/3D printing
  • Autonomous robots
  • Simulation/digital twins
  • Cybersecurity

The true impact of Industry 4.0 and digital transformation occurs when these technologies are digitally connected and can create and share information. Through this transformation, computers are no longer stand-alone. They are now able to connect, communicate with one another and make decisions without human intervention. And this combination of technologies has seen smart machines become smarter as they are continually able to access more data.

So, in essence, this is the way new technologies communicate and connect.

 

Benefits 

The ability of smart machines or cyber-physical systems – where products and production processes are networked and are able to communicate has seen new improved ways of production, as well as the capability to create value and optimisation in real-time.

Businesses that have taken advantage of all of what it currently has to offer have seen an increase in automation and process improvements which has also led to a substantial improvement in efficiencies and customer service.

‘Smart factories’ is another phrase we are seeing more of. These factories have the ability to collect and analyse large amounts of data collected from sensors allowing for things like predictive maintenance which has seen a massive decrease in their downtime.

Supply chain and logistics are other areas that are reaping the benefits of Industry 4.0. Where connected systems can adjust when new information is received. For example, if shipments have been delayed, a connected system can adjust accordingly and can reprioritise.

Shipping yards have seen the introduction of autonomous equipment like cranes and trucks which have streamlined their operations when it comes to receiving shipping containers. Companies like Amazon make use of autonomous robots. Which transport their products throughout their warehouses, reducing costs and optimising the use of their floor space.

Conclusion

Previously this type of digital transformation hasn’t necessarily been thought of as something small to medium enterprises can take advantage of. But there really is no excuse as every business should be looking at how they can integrate all the new available technologies. Industry 4.0 is something that should be embedded within any business’s digital strategy. It’s all about enabling these technologies to connect and communicate, taking your business to the next level.

Contact us here…

 

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Choosing the Right eSignature Solution

Choosing the right eSignature Solutions

Choosing the right eSignature solution can be concerning when you don’t have access to all the information you need. And with the rapid rise in digital transformation, eSignature solutions have become par for the course and quite frankly, no business should be without one. Fortunately, there are a host of options available. But finding the perfect solution for your business can be challenging if you’re not sure what to look out for. 

You will probably be surprised to know that here in South Africa, electronic signatures were approved back in 2002 under the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECTA). So, they have been around for a while and from a legal perspective, the law doesn’t differentiate between electronic signatures and hand-written ones.  

When it comes to making that all-important decision, your first port of call should be to define what your business requires from an eSignature solution.  Here are some key factors to take into consideration before diving in.

Types of eSignatures

There are two main types of eSignatures, electronic and digital. Simple electronic signatures (SES) fall into the electronic category while advanced electronic signatures (AES) and qualified electronic signatures (QES) are classified as digital signatures. 

An electronic signature can be a scanned handwritten signature, or a signature drawn with digital tools. Digital signatures use encryption technology to prevent anyone from editing a digital document once it has been signed. These solutions often also provide additional steps to validate the identity of the signer.

Deciding between an electronic and digital solution comes down to your compliance requirements. If you need an audit trail and surety that the document cannot be tampered with post signature, the digital solution is the way to go.

Ease of use

It’s important to ensure that new products you add to your organisation don’t change the way you currently work. Make sure whichever solution you choose easily integrates with your existing applications like Adobe PDFs, Word, Excel, Outlook, etc.

Digital transformation should be about improving and streamlining existing processes and your eSignature solution should be simple, quick, and intuitive for everyone to use.

Flexibility

Within each business, different departments have their own specific needs. You want to ensure whichever solution you choose not only meets your existing requirements, but also your future requirements. 

Your solution should provide the flexibility to have different types of signatures. Like the ability to customise, have multiple signatures per document, and batch signing processes if necessary.

Users should be able to sign electronically no matter what time it is, where they are located and no matter which device they are using. Your eSignature solution should allow your employees, partners and clients to sign without having to install specific software.

Control

As a business, you always want to maintain control of your documents. So it is vital to ensure that all of your documents remain within your IT domain and are not saved on external servers. This is especially important to the South African market with the introduction of POPIA.

CONCLUSION

Digital transformation and eSignatures go hand in hand. They are one of the key ways to reduce manual processes within any business. We have seen a huge increase in demand for these solutions. Especially with the introduction of remote working and the hybrid work model.  

No matter which solution you choose, your business and your clients will reap the benefits of eSignatures. Leaving you wondering why you never implemented it earlier!

eSignatures for Education

e-Signatures for Education

Digitising forms and administrative workflows with Conclude’s e-signing solutions is a simple way for schools and other educational institutions to cut costs and make administration, registration, and enrollment easier and more convenient for parents, students, and staff.

Conclude’s Take

There are typically many documents to complete, sign, and return to a school as part of the enrollment process. These documents typically include: 

  • Parent / Guardian Information
  • Applicant/s information
  • Financial Contract
  • Code of conduct
  • Certified copies of supporting documents (ID’s, birth certificates, photos, proof of residence, bank account details, etc.)

Our research has shown that every school operates differently, but many still rely on risky and poorly secured hard copy or digital forms. Some schools gather some information using some sort of online process (e.g. Google Forms, or a bespoke digital forms-based website)  in an attempt to digitise the process. However, there is no complete solution that runs through the process from beginning to end and is :

  • Easy to use,
  • POPIA Compliant, and
  • Enforces electronic/digital signatures that are fully compliant and admissible in court as per the ECT act.

The Problem with Paper

Have you ever considered how much the paper and printing cost of all the paperwork involved in each year’s new enrollments are cutting into already tight school budgets?  What about the administrative overheads involved in sorting, filing,  securing, and storing all that paper?  

The amount of administration involved in running a school is significant. For one thing, any parent who has ever had to fill in and sign the stacks of paper issued by their child’s school at the beginning of every school year will be able to relate to the tedium and writer’s cramp this produces!  Similarly, as a teacher or administrator, you know how much work is involved in managing the documents and forms schools generate!

Schools are also custodians of a great deal of highly confidential personal information and it is becoming more and more important to properly protect this information, especially in the light of growing information security risks in South Africa and legislation like POPIA.

In short, a paper-heavy administrative process costs money, wastes time, and creates security risks for your school.

Did You Know

Most South African organisations use a Standard Electronic Signature (SES) to apply an electronic signature to documents. 

However, under South Africa’s ECT Act, SES’s are only valid if:

  • The signatory (or document’s sender) is clearly identified,
  • The signature indicates the signatory’s approval of the information contained in the document,
  • The signature is appropriate for the document at the time of signature, and
  • A timestamp is included in the SES

 

Conclusion

The last 2 points are where many solutions, including electronic processes that schools use fall short. But, many are not fully compliant with South African legislation. It is also possible to fake this kind of signature.

Rather ease life and get in touch with Conclude to help you with your e-signing solutions for education.

 

Conclude and Bioo (Education)

Conclude and Bioo

At Conclude we believe in the power of STEAM education to build our country and empower its future leaders.

Because we are a business focused on digital transformation, we want our children and youth to be exposed to exciting developments in science and technology. Therefore, BiooEducation & Conclude have come together. 

To clarify, Bioo is a research & development company that focuses on scientific research for the generation of electricity from nature itself. One of its main goals is to bring nature and technology together to improve the quality of life.

Engineers, biologists, and technologists who work with an international network of companies and leading research centres in the sector make up the team.

For this reason, Bioo has recently partnered with the Conclude team to supply the educational sector with an experimental kit focusing on nature as a renewable energy source.

BiooEducation

Bioo designed BiooEducation for the education sector, based on their technology. As a result, it was created to share the most innovative technology with the next generation of leaders through a new interdisciplinary model for education.

 

For the purpose of bringing together nature and technology with an approach based on sustainability, STEAM fields, and real, practical, applicable learning.

What is it?

A resource for skill-based learning in science and technology. In other words, it ties into subjects from the first to the fourth grade of secondary education.

What do we promote?

  • Fostering vocation in STEAM fields without gender bias.
  • Developing environmental awareness.
  • Encouraging interest in sustainable entrepreneurship.
  • Awakening social responsibility.

Why?

This is because generating electricity from nature is one of the most impactful and innovative ways to motivate students and get them interested in STEAM fields and innovative green technology, through active, reality-based learning

The Pillars of Our Project

  • Sustainability

Firstly, we encourage good habits and accountability for a sustainable planet today and for future generations.

  • Entrepreneurship

Secondly, we promote young entrepreneurship tied to sustainable development and respect for the environment, especially in the STEAM fields.

  • Innovation

Lastly, we incentivize a shift towards new teaching methods that foster active learning and collaboration

Conclusion

At Conclude we believe our future, and the future of our planet resides with the youth. This is why we believe we must help encourage and foster their education with technologies of the future. Bioo provides just that, while ensuring the youth also lean towards sustainable development, not just for their sake, but the sake of the planet and future generations.

Contact us for more info!