I think we should all start worrying about the future of our right to privacy in the digital age. Essentially everything we do on the web and on our mobile devices is being logged and stored somewhere. We must be careful not to forget about the importance of privacy, secure communication and the ever present threat of what could happen if our data fell into the wrong hands.
Over the weekend I read an article which covered Koos Bekker’s recent talk at the Highway Africa conference, in Cape Town, where he spoke about how internet innovation is failing in Africa and Europe.
Now before I carry on, I’d like to reiterate the definition of innovation I subscribe to, which can be found in a recent post where I share my thoughts on innovation in South Africa. I would also like to mention that I think Koos is probably one of the few high profile executives in South Africa that “get” this space. One just needs to look at the Naspers tech investment portfolio to understand that.
I’ve been wanting to share my thoughts around innovation for a while. It is a broad topic and I won’t be able to explore it entirely in this post. However I would like to make some key points on innovation in South Africa, and to some extent, Africa. In some way, consider this post a response to a post on how South Africans refuse to innovate, and love to imitate by Jason Adriaan.
Before I go into detail, I would like to state that I subscribe to the definition of innovation as defined by Douglas Merrill (former CIO of Google) which is:
- Incremental Innovation – Small changes to a process or system, for example evolution.
- Incremental Innovation with Side Affect(s) – Small changes to a process or system with side affects, for example the opposable thumb.
- Transformation Change – An introduction of a new process or system that fundamentally changes the way things work. Alternatively, a change to a process or system that has significant impact. For example Google’s introduction of the auction / pay per click model for online advertising.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the cost and complexity of software solutions sold to government. I really don’t understand how government gets away with spending billions of Rands on software solutions that aren’t delivered, don’t work or have stupid bugs.
I think the tax payers and corporate sponsors should start seeing some results. South Africa’s service delivery could be improved by 10x (if not more), if the software implemented by government worked. I believe it is possible that software can be developed for all departments (national, provincial and local) that is definitely much more cost effective than what we see flying around now. Therefore saving tax payers money, which can be put to good elsewhere! I firmly believe that we can also have systems implemented in such a way that won’t leave local departments “offline” and unable to operate.