Technology

EditorFebruary 23, 2018
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6min90

 

 

 

 

 

Pradeep, Executive Director, Aavishkaar presents the Aaavishkaar Social Impact Award to Jehan Wijesinghe, CEO & Co-Founder IgniterSpace and Hasith Yaggahawita, Founder IgniterSpace

When software engineer Hasith Yaggahavita founded IgniterSpace, together with two colleagues, he was simply making up for the lack of a good creative education- or more specifically, ‘makerspace’- programmes to enrol his own kids in. So, in March 2016 IgniterSpace began its journey in Hasith’s home. A short two years later Hasith and his team are quietly celebrating a rapid expansion and a couple of unexpected, yet well-deserved wins at the e-Swabhimani awards 2017 and Venture Engine 2017.

IgniterSpace is a ‘makerspace’ for kids that guides them to unleash their creativity through technology. Although not a phrase used in common parlance, a makerspace is simply a place where students can gather to create, invent and tinker using tools, material and some guidance. With the firm belief that anything is possible, IgniterSpace inspires students to be creative and innovative. Children are exposed to different aspects of technology such as mechanical, electrical, electronic computer programming and robotics. With this foundation, they are then encouraged to further experiment to gain deeper insights.

 

Dumith Fernando, Chairman Asia Securities (Pvt) Ltd., Sanchayan Chakraborty, Partner, Aavishkaar and Jeevan Gnanam, CEO Orion City, award Hasith Yaggahawita, Founder IgniterSpace and Jehan Wijesinghe, CEO & Co-Founder IgniterSpace the Venture Engine 1st runner up position.

The company quickly grew from being a small operation at Hasith’s home to a very popular educational institute coveted by parents who wanted their kids to have the IgniterSpace experience. Mano Sekaram, Hasith’s long-time mentor and eminent IT industry heavyweight, joined in to help IgniterSpace grow. Mano recognized that the company was doing something unusual and creative, and helped the team move into a second makerspace in Narahenpita, and then to other cities such as Moratuwa, Gampaha, Negombo and Kandy.

Today the IgniterSpace team consists of 15 full time professionals and 45 part-time instructors led by CEO Jehan Wijesinghe and COO Buddika Wijesekera. Their educational model is a tried, tested and loved by kids. Students begin with prototyping known machines to develop basic knowledge as well as fine motor skills and then move onto production grade explorative creations. Through these exercises, kids gain design thinking and entrepreneurship skills alongside the ability to create production grade prototypes of their own concepts.

This is where the steps for innovation and entrepreneurship are laid, says CEO Jehan Wijesinghe. “We are committed to guiding the younger generation to become innovators and creators of technology, but we also understand that this is not a vision that is accomplished over a short span of time. We’re ready to walk the talk with our partners over decades to come.”

Jehan Wijesinghe, CEO & Co-Founder IgniterSpace, receives the e-Swabhimani award for Learning & Education

The team is also celebrating placing winners in the education category at the 2017 national e-Swabhimani awards presented by the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA). IgniterSpace also received the Aaavishkaar Social Impact Award for the highest social impact and was the 1st runner up at Venture Engine 2017. CEO Jehan also represented Sri-Lanka at the Sankalp Global Sustainability & Social Impact Summit held in Mumbai India in December 2017. For Hasith, this is further confirmation that he was onto something when he first began IgniterSpace from his living room. “It’s rewarding to know that what you’re doing is making a real impact. We’re actually making a difference here, by teaching kids skills that they’re not picking up at school, but essential for the future.” he says.

The classes are conducted at five levels: first 3 levels are for age based entry (ages 5-7 years, 8-10 years, 11-15 years) and prerequisite for level 4, which is focused on problem solving. Once level 4 is completed, students can enter the IgniterSpace Start-up School where they learn to become real-world innovators and entrepreneurs. The courses are usually conducted in English, although native languages are accommodated on request.


EditorFebruary 21, 2018
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9min170

In conversation with Sunil Sharma, Managing Director – Sales (India & SAARC) of Sophos Technologies Pvt. Ltd.

Q: Sophos is one of the key leaders in the cyber security space. Can you briefly describe what the company is about?

A: Sophos Technologies was established in 1985 in the UK. For the last 32 years, the company has been built on pure technical solidity. We started to acquire companies since the early 2000s in order to complete the product portfolio. Globally Sophos is one of the oldest in the security space. We also see continued YOY growth, which solidifies our business.

At present, Sophos has primary research and development centers in 5 locations globally, and India is one of them. With 22% – 25% of our workforce based out of India, we have great focus on India and the SAARC region as part of our long term vision and plan.

The business model of Sophos constitutes of 16 branches in India, Regional Heads for the rest of the countries, and a model based purely on distributors in smaller markets such as Nepal and Bhutan. Sophos is handled by Avian Technologies in Sri Lanka and the Maldives, a relationship counting almost a decade.

Q: How important is the partner eco system for Sophos?

A: Sophos worldwide does 100% business through channels only. One of our mission statements is a Channel-first commitment. Therefore the only eco system that mattes to us is the channel eco system.

Q: When Sophos was looking at the Sri Lankan market, what made you choose Avian Technologies as a partner?

A: For us loyalty with partners is paramount. At Sophos we believe that a partnership is a give and take relationship. This is what has prompted us to work with Avian, as they have been in the industry for a considerable time, and have repeatedly proven their capability in building our business.

Q: With the increasing cyber threats at present, what would Sophos perceive as the greatest challenge in cyber security?

A: I would not prefer to name one definite threat as ‘the greatest challenge’. For me, the only thing companies such as Sophos need to do is think and work faster than the cyber criminals.

In considering cyber threats, there are three different kinds;

  1. Global cyber warfare
  2. State sponsored hacking
  3. Attacks to the corporate business; Ransomware, Malware, Advance Persistence Threats (APTs)

In view of these, Sophos is very much prepared. We advocate a system which is called ‘synchronized security’; it’s a very coordinated defense mechanism, which looks into both the end point as well as the network security. Cyber threat can enter at any point. A network security firewall alone will not make one safe. At one point cyber security concentrated only on IPS or Network security firewall email gateway or web security gateway, but we have evolved beyond that. A complete security system should cover all potential threat points, and each point should be linked with one another. In this way, even the minutest breach will indicate that something has been compromised and the complete defense mechanism kicks off. We have proactive systems put in place by which the affected system is being quarantined, treated and put back as a clean system. It is with this simple philosophy that Sophos works worldwide.

Sophos also has Cloud based solutions. This is a cost effective system where our clients have access to Sophos Central, a management console on the cloud, which gives access to a dashboard to CIO s and IT Managers.

Our MSP – Managed Security Provider – caters to SME customers who are cost conscious and work with limited resources. This flexible option has been launched in India and we are looking at expanding the concept in the rest of the region. The MSP is integrated with Sophos Central and is compatible with local network software.

Network security is a 24×7 process. We process about 400,000 malware daily at our Sophos threat lab. We upgrade our products at an on-going basis. This involves a huge back-end operation; research and development in addition to maintenance to ensure that our customers are protected.

I regularly come across the question, “Does this mean the customer does not get attacked?” Customers are bound to be attacked. Will it increase? Yes. The solution to it is a vendor who takes care of you by deploying the right solution and a coordinated defense mechanism.

The other main aspect which Sophos is involved in is Education. Phishing attacks are very common, but in spite of knowing an email could be a phishing email, people still click it. Our product called Phish Threat, which has been selling like hot cakes in India, is a product for the internal system to educate users about Phishing. The product can also simulate attacks.

As part of social responsibility, Sophos has also initiated Sophos Home, which is provided free of cost. It’s a commercial grade phenomenal product, an anti-virus which has the latest capabilities, which can be downloaded free to your device.

Q: What is your opinion on the cyber security landscape in Sri Lanka and the region?

A: My personal opinion is that Sri Lanka has great potential. It is on par with India, with only the size and volume making the difference. People are equally internet savvy and the threats we face are the same. Along with Avian Technologies, Sophos continues to achieve milestones every year and yet it is a matter of ‘miles to go before we sleep’.

South Asia is a developing economy resulting in differences in terms of use of technology and purchasing habits in comparison to the West.

Worldwide, I see huge potential in cyber security. The cyber security market is 39 billion USD worldwide. By 2020 with the expected growth it will grow to 48 billion USD. Therefore as a company we have a lot of work to be done, whether in terms of creating awareness with our customers and resellers, or in giving a complete end-to-end solution to our customers so that they can be protected and at the same time reducing the complexity in solutions and providing simplicity. This is a job for the entire security industry.

Q: What does the Sri Lankan market mean to Sophos?

A: We consider Sri Lanka as a very important market and that is why we invested here 8 years back in the form of a distributor. We foresaw that Sri Lanka was going to develop and has huge potential and scope. We have invested to the length of having our own resource in addition to the distributor, so that our customer has direct access when they face issues.

Along with Avian Technologies we are able to provide pre-sales support for resellers as well as post –sales support proactively. Sophos has separate training programmes for partners on both pre and post sales. There is online and on-site training as well, which happen every quarter. Sophos is a product which has a lot of involvement and that is what makes it very strong.


EditorFebruary 20, 2018
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3min330

EWIS Peripherals (Pvt) Ltd, a pioneer in introducing industry leading digital printing, imaging and power solutions to the local market for the past 32 years, has partnered with Pantum as their authorised distributor. This partnership will enable Pantum to sell their range of printers via direct and indirect sales channels through the islandwide EWIS network.

Pantum is an international company that develops, manufactures and sells laser printers and toner cartridges. Pantum’s single function and multifunction printers have advanced core technologies that transforms into high-speed duplex printing solutions and a comprehensive self-developed patent system that offers reliable, cost effective and environmentally friendly printing solutions. Pantum’s products are sold and distributed in over 40 countries and regions, especially focused on the SMB, SOHO and educational markets.

“We are delighted to be in partnership with EWIS Peripherals and look forward to offering our printing solutions to their customers,” said Remond Kong, General Manager of Zhuhai Pantum Electronics Co., LTD. “Their customers will now have access to a wider range of products along with cost options, innovation, size and scalability.”

“Expanding with a new product is exciting news for us and good news for our customers,” said Mr. Harsha Samarajiwa, Chief Operating Officer of EWIS Peripherals (Pvt) Ltd. “A key factor in the decision to partner with Pantum is their exceptional product range and series of printers to the SMB, and SOHO markets.”

EWIS Peripherals (Pvt) Ltd., is the sole Authorized Distributor for Lexmark, Ricoh, Konica Minolta, Casio, Riello, EWIS Solar among others.  The company has been able to position itself as a reputable vendor in Sri Lanka. It has a wide distribution network across the nation.

The company has transformed itself from a traditional box seller to a solutions-oriented organization with industry leading expertise that provides consultation to its client base with a solutions-oriented approach. Today, EWIS Peripherals (Pvt) Ltd., has become one of the largest and most profitable consumable businesses in the country and is an integral part of the EWIS Group, which has its own line up of PC’s, Tabs & Smart Phones under the EWIS Brand name.


EditorFebruary 18, 2018
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8min260

How technology dominates the customer experience and changes industries.

In a meeting with the American Chamber of commerce in Sri Lanka recently, Mani Kulasooriya – founder of Sysco LABS, and Ron May, Vice President of eSolutions at Sysco, addressed the audience with a presentation on the way that “Technology is eating the World” – an examination of the way that all industries are transforming to operate like the tech industry and how companies can react to this emerging trend. The following article summarizes key insights from their joint presentation.

Many of the major industries in the world have experienced upheaval due to tech companies entering their space. Uber’s entry into the taxi industry, and Airbnb’s entry into hospitality are some of the famous examples, along with Amazon’s disruption of how we think about retail. These tech companies have been successful by going beyond simply iterating upon the way industries run or innovation processes; they have used technology to completely disrupt the way that these industries serve their customers. In the case of Uber and Airbnb, by leveraging the sharing economy to overcome the barriers to these respective industries; and Amazon, by overcoming the need for brick and mortar storefronts through leveraging the online marketplace.

These disruptions have fueled both the growth of tech companies and their transformation. The largest companies in America in the previous decades were Oil and Energy companies, but in 2016, the trend shifted towards tech companies occupying the top five slots; Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook respectively. This growth was driven by a transformation within the tech companies themselves. In the late 90s, technology was a support function of organizations and more often than not, one that could be outsourced out of the organization if not out of the country, so many of the largest tech companies were BPOs. However, as technology continued to develop, the leading tech companies became those that specialized in creating technology to be used by consumers: The Apples, Microsofts and Googles of the world. But today, in the Silicon Valley, the leading tech companies are those that provide a more traditional product or service but with a superior customer experience driven by technology – Netflix, Amazon, Uber, etc.

This latest trend of superior customer experience through technology is growing fast as the latest innovations in technology allow tech to make a greater impact along the value chain. More obvious innovations such as the IoT (Internet of Things), robots, drones, automated cars, virtual assistants and employees, are driving change on the customer facing end of the value chain, while more invisible innovations like blockchain technology – which drives cryptocurrencies and the big data produced through smart sensors and edge computing – transform value chains at their base. Together, what we are witnessing is an ever-growing influence of tech in business that will only allow tech companies to survive the future.

So, if you aren’t a tech company yourself, how do you react to this change? Well, start operating like one. Lead like a founder – which is to say that you need to lead with the will to take large bold decisions the way that the founder of the company would. These decisions are the forces which will allow you to transform. Secondly, organize your company like a tech startup – with agility in mind. Small teams that own projects, move fast and are held accountable. Thirdly, hire techies and integrate them into you teams; this allows you to bring technology to every aspect of your organization and allows your teams to operate with entrepreneurial dexterity and independence.

Finally, to really operate like a tech company, you need to focus on the customer experience. The experience that your customer has with your product and your service, but also the experience your customer has through all their interactions with your business, and the emotion that the brand carries through these numerous touch points.

The experiences that your customer has along this journey creates the new brand. The experience-based brand that works across every touch point, and a positive customer experience transforms your consumers from customers into fans. A fan of a brand is more than a customer; while a customer is fickle and may switch your product out for a competitor’s if they perceive even a slight improvement, a fan will stay with you even when they may have an anomalous negative experience because of the history they have with the brand and the positive experiences you have created. In the market of the future, it will be brands that can create fans using technology that will thrive, as all industries become tech industries.

Ron May, Vice President – e-Solutions, Sysco Corporation is a professional services leader with proven expertise in digital customer experience, direct sales, contract negotiation, P&L management, large scale operations, strategic solution delivery, and cultivation of executive level client relationships.

Mani Kulasooriya is the founder of Sysco LABS (formerly known as CAKE) and led the company from a startup in the Silicon Valley to eventually be acquired by one of the largest companies in the world; Sysco Corporation (NASDAQ: SYY). He has deep connections in the Valley, having worked for companies like Citigroup e-Citi and Yahoo prior to this venture. He is an astute tech investor and has investments in over 25 companies in tech. He has been instrumental in bringing the Silicon Valley thought process and innovation capabilities to Sri Lanka.

Sysco LABS is the innovation arm of Sysco Corporation (NYSE:SYY), the world’s largest foodservice company. Sysco is the global leader in marketing, selling and distributing food products as well as equipment and supplies to the hospitality industry. Sysco serves over 500,000 customers through its team of over 65,000 associates and operates 300 distribution facilities across the globe.

Sysco LABS is re-imagining the global foodservice industry: our engineering teams based out of Colombo, Sri Lanka, Redwood City, CA and Austin and Houston TX, will innovate across the entire supply chain – sourcing of food products, merchandising, storage and warehouse operations, order placement and pricing algorithms, delivery of food and supplies to Sysco’s global network – culminating in the in-restaurant dining experience for the end-customer. Operating with the agility and efficiency of a tech–startup and backed by the domain expertise of the industry leader, Sysco LABS is poised to revolutionize one of the biggest industries in the world.


EditorFebruary 16, 2018
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4min330

A renowned world-class player in the energy industry, CHINT is committed to providing secure, reliable and high quality domestic and industrial electrical switchgear and equipment across the country.

A leading brand in the electrical industry in Asia and  founded in 1984, CHINT’s organization spans the world with setting up manufacturing plants in Germany, Spain and the USA, and having trading establishments  in over 130 countries across the globe with a staff strength of over 30,000 employees. CHINT is also ranked as one of the leading PV Solar manufactures in the world.

CHINT strives constantly to fulfill increasing demands of its customers through continuous technological innovations and a rigorous pursuit for quality. At present it prides itself to be the ‘only international electrical switchgear brand available in Sri Lanka’ to secure the SLS quality certification for five different products for its superior quality.

In addition, with the successful presence in overseas markets, CHINT has secured quality certifications from various accredited international institutions such as UL from USA, VDE of Germany, and KEMA from Netherlands to name a few.

In Sri Lanka, CHINT has had a powerful presence for over a decade and in the year 2005 CHINT was originally introduced to the Ceylon Electricity Board for its requirements. CHINT became the ‘most preferred low voltage switchgear brand’ since then for the CEB initiative of 100% rural electrification programme having supplied over 1.8 Million pieces of low voltage protective switchgear to date.

In 2010, as a result of CHINT’s growing popularity in the local market, the company initiated an island wide distribution operation, taking the brand all across the country. The product range which is presently considered of  having the ‘widest range of electrical items under a single brand name in Sri Lanka’ is now available at your closest electrical and hardware shop and comprises of CHINT’s flagship range – Protection and Control gear  (low voltage switchgear),switches and sockets and also electrical accessories.

High quality and consistency are the key aspects of electrical protective switchgear and CHINT is one of the first international switch gear brands to secure the Sri Lankan Standards Certification (SLS) for its MCBs and RCCBs to ensure safety and reliability safeguarding the local consumers.

Market feedback indicates that CHINT is a trusted brand among consumers and electricians whilst the preference of electrical industrialists is its consistent quality and widest range of product availability.

Being the pioneer in the country to introduce the commonly known ‘big button’ electrical switches and sockets series in keeping with global trends, CHINT recently proudly announced another addition to its prolific range – the ‘CHINT POWER Series’ switches and sockets in a range comprising  of six elegant colours namely black, silver, champagne , grey black, coffee and white which would be available shortly at all electrical and hardware outlets island wide.

CHINT POWER Series switches and sockets are not only of high durability but also designed to ensure the aesthetics of a building are enhanced.

Managing Director of CHINT, Mr. A. S. Rakulan, a veteran in the industry, extols passionately about the brand and looks to strengthen its partnerships with consumers and the government institutions in enhancing the quality of life with safer and nicer homes and offices.

Speaking at the launch Mr. Bandula Ranasinghe, General Manager of CHINT said, “The strength of CHINT is its rigorous pursuit of quality, thereby enhancing the quality of lives, making homes, offices, buildings, safer and nicer places to be in.”


EditorFebruary 16, 2018
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3min320

ESET – a global player in information security – has been named as a Challenger in the 2018 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms*. The company was the only Challenger named in the Magic Quadrant. ESET was evaluated based on its ability to execute and completeness of vision. ESET believes this placement reflects its consistently improved competence to offer maximum protection for enterprises.

The Gartner Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms report states, “Endpoint protection is evolving to address more of Gartner’s adaptive security architecture tasks such as hardening, investigation, incident detection, and incident response. Security and risk management leaders should ensure that their EPP vendor evolves fast enough to keep up with modern threats.”

“We believe that our positioning as a Challenger position is a sign of our continued progress in delivering the best in endpoint protection to businesses, without impacting on their systems or creating unnecessary overheads,” commented Ignacio Sbampato, Chief Business Officer at ESET. “Enterprises can rely on ESET’s knowledge and insight to keep their organizations protected, and we consider our position in this Gartner Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms as a genuine reflection of our development as global player in information security.”

 According to Gartner’s IT Glossary, “Gartner Magic Quadrants offer visual snapshots, in-depth analyses and actionable advice that provide insight into a market’s direction, maturity and participants. Magic Quadrants compare vendors based on Gartner’s standard criteria and methodology. Each report comes with a Magic Quadrant graphic that depicts a market using a two-dimensional matrix that evaluates vendors based on their Completeness of Vision and Ability to Execute.**

*Source: Gartner, “Magic Quadrant for Endpoint Protection Platforms,” Ian McShane, Avivah Litan, Eric Ouellet, Prateek Bhajanka, 24 January 2018.

** Source: Gartner IT Glossary, https://www.gartner.com/it-glossary/magic-quadrant.  


EditorFebruary 16, 2018
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2min420

Airtel Lanka introduced a series of additional tools and services to its growing customer base across Sri Lanka, in its continued effort to give the best experience to Airtel subscribers. Recently, Airtel launched the ‘My Airtel’ app, a comprehensive solution that allows subscribers to access a wide range of Airtel products and services through their smartphones and receive App only exclusive offers. Available for Android, Apple and Windows smartphones, the ‘My Airtel’ app allows subscribers to see their available and outstanding balance through an easy to navigate dashboard, pay or top up their account, activate packs and get array/bouquet of entertainment services.

Bharti Airtel Lanka CEO/ MD Jinesh Hedge commenting on the company’s continued drive to enhance customer experience said, “Brilliant customer care is when our customers are empowered to facilitate themselves without the need of reaching out to the call centre. As we expand, we need to simplify our subscribers’ interaction with us and enable them to take control of their account from anywhere, at any time.”

A live chat platform was also launched, allowing customers to interact with Airtel Sales, Customer Service, and Technical Support agents through airtel.lk, ‘My Airtel’ app and on the ‘Airtel life’ Facebook Page & Messenger. The chat platform will provide customers with an ‘anywhere-anytime’ access to support with their package, technical support or any other inquiry related to their Airtel connection.

Further enhancing the subscriber experience, customers can now obtain services and support from over 13,000 outlets spread across Sri Lanka. The Airtel outlets are specifically geared to offer premier services such as mobile data services, reloads and recharges, SIM registration and replacements, and bill payments.


EditorFebruary 15, 2018
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3min390

Thursday, 15 February 2018, Colombo: Ookla® has declared the National Mobile Service Provider, Mobitel, its Speedtest Award Winner for having the Fastest Mobile Network in Sri Lanka. Speedtest Awards are licensed to Internet Service Providers and mobile carriers around the world that are determined by Ookla to be the fastest in their market. Sri Lanka’s Award was determined using a proprietary methodology of Ookla’s analysis of Speedtest® results from Q3–Q4 2017.

In the 2017 Speedtest Awards, the awards for top providers in speed are determined using a Speed Score that incorporates a measure of each provider’s download and upload speed to rank network speed performance. Adding upload speeds is a new addition this year with awards from past years focusing on download speed only.

Commenting on the recognition, Nalin Perera, CEO of Mobitel said ‘Winning the Ookla awards affirms Mobitel’s commitment to deliver optimal benefits to our valued customers to enjoy being on the fastest and best network in Sri Lanka. This prestigious recognition from a well renowned international body is something that is rewarding to the organization for its commitment and dedication to ensure that customer expectations are met. Mobitel has built the infrastructure to meet these expectations and will continue to invest in enhancing all aspects of the network in the months ahead to enhance the overall user experience to world-class standards’.

Mobitel dominates rival networks in the country in terms of network speed on broadband to emerge No. 1 in the industry. Mobitel 4G LTE technology offers users the superior experience of enjoying high definition streaming videos and Multimedia Online Gaming (MMOG).   Mobitel also recently enhanced its 4G LTE network coverage by innovatively deploying its existing 900MHz spectrum. This initiative is Sri Lanka’s first such deployment, thus significantly enhancing Sri Lanka’s 4G LTE coverage and LTE MIMO technology, making Mobitel the No.1 network in Sri Lanka.

The Speedtest Award is decided using Q3–Q4 2017 Speedtest results from Ookla – a popular independent internet testing tool used by millions of consumers around the world every day. It is published on http://www.speedtest.net/awards/lk/carrier/2017 for further information.



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