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Bots are yesterday’s news | ITWeb



Gary De Menezes, Country General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, Micro Focus.

Gary De Menezes, Country General Manager, Sub-Saharan Africa, Micro Focus.

Robotic process automation, or RPA, is not a new concept. It’s been around for the past 10 years at least, says Gary de Menezes, Country General Manager for sub-Saharan Africa at Micro Focus. It just looked different as it was in the form of technology-driven software robots, or bots. The whole initiative was technology-driven in those early days, with the aim of bringing automation to simplified tasks.

If we travel back to the invention of computing as we know it today, we’ve always known about business process re-engineering (BPR). Every single computer was designed around this: it was a C-suite imperative that everyone had to do. Companies spent vast amounts of money on end-to-end BPR, and it was an ongoing project with no end in sight.

Then BPR evolved into business process automation (BPA) and companies started looking at their processes to see what could be automated. This was driven by an increase in the number of transactions and a realisation that the workforce couldn’t be expanded at the same rate. It just wasn’t possible for companies to scale to meet rapidly growing demand.

“Voila BPA,” says De Menezes. “In order to evolve certain levels of BPA, the software robot, or bot, was formed. This was a simplistic technology aimed at delivering automation. However, over the next 10 years, this resulted in companies having all these automated processes that weren’t intelligent and that couldn’t evolve themselves. No decisions were possible. The next evolution required to make BPA work better was intelligent bots, which is where we are today, with robotic process automation (RPA).”

RPA is the use of software with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to handle high volume, repeatable tasks that were previously done by humans. It all comes down to an intelligent robot.

It’s important to note that bots have evolved from being a technology responsibility to being a business imperative. “As we move into the cloud world, where everything is connected and at your fingertips, the number of transactions is out of control. The main reason that RPA is such a hot topic at the moment is it’s the only solution that will enable companies to scale and grow going forward in a cost-effective manner.”

Any definition of robotic process automation requires that three elements be present: a business process management system must be implemented and changed to record the new automated process; the software bot itself that will do this interaction (which always stood alone before); and the automated controlling, monitoring and scheduling of what the bot does.

De Menezes explains: “Previously, the first and third elements were missing from BPA, which is why bots never achieved major traction in the business world as well as why BPA has traditionally been a technology-led product.”

Internationally, businesses in various sectors have reported massive productivity gains from implementing BPA. The financial sector has redesigned how claims are processed using bots, with one bank deploying 150 bots to perform transactions that would require the hiring of 200 employees, at 30% of the cost of increasing the workforce. In the retail sector, bots are being deployed to automate functions such as answering customer questions and retrieving useful information from audit documents.

Locally, there are quite a few use cases where RPA is being implemented, says De Menezes, with chatbots in particular gaining acceptance.

“People are getting tired of performing repetitive tasks, and eventually, these tasks will be replaced by RPA.”

But, will bots actually cut into employment figures? Garter says by 2020, bots will reduce 65% of employee requirements in certain areas, such as call centres. But, are we really talking about removing people? De Menezes says no, in all of the documented use cases referred to above, none of the businesses got rid of employees. Instead they upskilled entry-level employees to add more value to the organisation. This means nobody remains an entry-level knowledge worker indefinitely.

Another challenge faced locally is that many of the bigger sectors rely on home-grown applications, with the insurance industry being a prime example. “There’s no cohesive system; each division uses its own solution. So if you’re buying a policy or registering a claim, that’s two different systems that require you to resubmit your information. If these tasks can be relegated to bots, then you can upskill your workforce to add value to other areas of the business.”

This suggestion makes good business sense when you consider the rate at which the number of transactions and processes are increasing. “Companies have two options,” says De Menezes. “Either they can hire more people or they can enter the world of RPA. The former is just not economically viable if you consider that growth in the number of transactions doesn’t necessarily translate into revenue growth.”

RPA is regarded as the silver bullet for managing an explosion in transactions, with the caveat that it must be business-driven instead of technology-led. “This is one of the potential pitfalls of RPA,” says De Menezes, “if it’s technology-driven, it has an 85% chance of failure within the organisation.”

Research has shown that only 3% [IDC] of organisations have managed to successfully scale RPA.

Local banks are facing an interesting dilemma currently, in that if the mature, conservative financial institutions want to remain relevant, they need to compete with the more agile digital providers that are coming to the fore. “This means that they’d all aggressively commit to RPA in a number of areas because they need to achieve efficiencies quickly to compete with the newcomers,” says Justin Agar, Territory Manager, Application Modernisation and Connectivity Portfolio at Micro Focus. “The big banks have to change to stay relevant, but also just in order to survive.”

RPA is a stepping stone to true intelligent automation, and while it eliminates human error and presents less of a security risk, it is at the same time also generating huge amounts of data. This means predictive analytics becomes a feasible model to combine with RPA in order to facilitate intelligent, automated changes within the process. “That’s the future growth path of RPA and how it’s going to evolve,” says De Menezes. “Intelligent analytics capabilities will permit insights into where processes aren’t working so that RPA can adapt itself to become more efficient.”

However, initially, RPA is simply allowing the organisation to do more with what it currently has and be more competitive. It’s about becoming more efficient and handling the demands of the data world that we live in today.

He concludes by saying: “For many years, research firms like Gartner, Forrester and IDC have been advising customers to rip and replace their technology. For the first time, we’re seeing all of the analysts saying you have to modernise instead. This represents a 180-degree turn. They’ve realised that rip and replace is just too disruptive and expensive for most businesses to withstand.”

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Riot police squads intervene as pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters clash in Montreal




People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

People wave flags atop cars in traffic during a demonstration to voice support for the people of Palestine, at Toronto City Hall in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, on 15 May 2021.

  • Violence
    between pro-Israel and pro-Palestine protesters in Montreal was condemned by
    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
  • Montreal’s
    city police force intervened and declared the protests illegal after tensions
    heightened and clashes broke out.
  • Israeli
    strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
    toll in almost a week of clashes.

– Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Sunday condemned the violence and
“despicable rhetoric” that marked several weekend protests throughout
the country, after clashes between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian protesters in

worst violence in years, sparked by unrest in Jerusalem, is raging between the
Jewish state and Islamist militants.

strikes killed 42 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the worst daily
toll in almost a week of deadly clashes.

after protests in Montreal, Trudeau condemned what he said was “despicable
rhetoric and violence we saw on display in some protests this weekend”.

insisting on the “right to assemble peacefully and express themselves
freely in Canada”, Trudeau stressed in a tweet that there was no tolerance
for “antisemitism, Islamophobia, or hate of any kind”.

on Sunday, Montreal police used tear gas following clashes between pro-Israel
and pro-Palestinian protesters.

hundred demonstrators, draped in Israeli flags, had gathered in a central
Montreal square to express solidarity with the Jewish state.

‘Protesting is a right’

the protest started peacefully, tensions ratcheted up with the arrival of
pro-Palestinian demonstrators and clashes soon broke out.

SPVM, Montreal’s city police force, declared the protests illegal, and squads
of riot police intervened, using tear gas to separate and disperse the two
groups, according to an AFP journalist at the scene.

police spent much of the afternoon in pursuit of the pro-Palestinian
protesters, who spread out and regrouped in commercial streets in the city centre.

the clashes, Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante said on Twitter that
“protesting is a right”, but that “intolerance, violence and
anti-Semitism have no place here”.

She said:

Montreal is a city of peace.

thousand pro-Palestinian demonstrators had gathered on Saturday in central
Montreal to denounce what they said were Israeli repression and “war
crimes” in Gaza.

Israel”, some protesters chanted, while others held up a banner that read,
“Stop the genocide of Palestinian children”.

protests happened the same day in multiple Canadian cities, including Toronto,
Ottawa and Vancouver.

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Peter Thiel Helps Fund an App That Tells You What to Do




“How would you feel about being able to pay to control multiple aspects of another person’s life?” asks the BBC.

“A new app is offering you the chance to do just that.”

When writer Brandon Wong recently couldn’t decide what takeaway to order one evening, he asked his followers on social media app NewNew to choose for him. Those that wanted to get involved in the 24-year-old’s dinner dilemma paid $5 (£3.50) to vote in a poll, and the majority verdict was that he should go for Korean food, so that was what he bought…

NewNew is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based entrepreneur Courtne Smith. The app, which is still in its “beta” or pre-full release stage, describes itself as “a human stock market where you buy shares in the lives of real people, in order to control their decisions and watch the outcome”. For many of us that sounds a bit ominous, but the reality is actually far less alarming. It is aimed at what it calls “creators” — writers, painters, musicians, fashion designers, bloggers etc. It is designed as a way for them to connect far more closely with their fans or followers than on other social media services and, importantly, monetise that connection…

Whenever a vote is cast the creator gets the money minus NewNew’s undisclosed commission… In addition to voting, followers can also pay extra — from $20 — to ask a NewNew creator to do something of their choosing, such as naming a character in a book after them. But the creator can reject all of these “bids”, and if they do so then the follower doesn’t have to part with the money…

Co-founder and chief executive Ms Smith, a 33-year-old Canadian, has big plans for NewNew, and has some heavyweight backers. Investors include Peter Thiel, the billionaire co-founder of PayPal, and the first outside person to put money into Facebook. Others with a stake in the business include leading US tech investment fund Andreessen Horowitz, and Hollywood actor Will Smith (no relation to Courtne). Snapchat has also given technical support.

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Sandpapergate will haunt Australia cricket forever: ex-bowling coach




Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach - Gallo Images/Getty Images)

Cameron Bancroft. (Photo by Brenton Geach – Gallo Images/Getty Images)

The 2018 ball-tampering scandal will haunt Australian cricket forever, much like the infamous underarm delivery of 40 years ago, the team’s former bowling coach David Saker said on Monday.

Saker was responding to opening batsman Cameron Bancroft suggesting that Australia’s bowlers knew about the plan in Cape Town to alter the ball which earned him a nine-month ban and rocked the game.

Saker was Australia’s bowling coach when Bancroft was caught trying to rough up the ball with sandpaper during the third Test against South Africa.

While refusing to be drawn on who knew what, Saker said “the finger-pointing is going to go on and on and on”.

“It’s like the underarm, it’s never going to go away,” he told Fairfax Media, referring to a 1981 incident when Trevor Chappell bowled underarm to ensure New Zealand lost a one-day match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

The notorious delivery is still cited in New Zealand and in cricketing circles as a prime example of unsporting conduct.

However, the ball-tampering scandal – dubbed “sandpapergate” – had a greater impact on Australian cricket, with the then-captain Steve Smith and his deputy David Warner suspended for a year from all cricket and stripped of their leadership roles.

Darren Lehmann also quit as coach and all the top brass from Cricket Australia left after a scathing review blasted their “arrogant and controlling” win-at-all-costs culture.

No one else among the team or coaching staff was held to account but Bancroft’s remarks in an interview with The Guardian newspaper hinted that the team’s bowlers at least knew about the plan.

“Obviously what I did benefits bowlers and the awareness around that, probably, is self-explanatory,” he said.

Saker added: “There was a lot of people to blame. It could have been me to blame, it could have been someone else. It could have been stopped and it wasn’t, which is unfortunate.

“Cameron’s a very nice guy. He’s just doing it to get something off his chest … He’s not going to be the last.”

In response, Cricket Australia said that if anyone had new information, they would look into it.

Saker said he was not opposed to a fresh investigation but added “I just don’t know what they’re going to find out.”

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Mexico’s Andrea Meza crowned Miss Universe




Miss Universe Andrea Meza

Miss Universe Andrea Meza





1. Mexico

2. India

3. Brazil

4. Dominican Republic

5. Peru



1. Jamaica 

2. Dominican Republic 

3. India

4. Peru 

5. Australia 

6. Puerto Rico

7. Thailand

8. Costa Rica

9. Mexico

10. Brazil





1. Columbia

2. Peru 

3. Australia 

4. France

5. Myanmar

6. Jamaica 

7. Mexico 

8. Dominican Republic 

9. USA

10. Indonesia 

11. Argentina 

12. India

13. Curaçao

14. Puerto Rico

15. Phillipines 

16. Brazil

17. Great Britain

18. Nicaragua

19. Thailand 

20. Costa Rica

21. Vietnam



74 contestants will compete for the title of Miss Universe on 16 May in Hollywood, Florida. 

The Miss Universe pageant takes place on 16 May in the US (02:00 to 05:00 on 17 May SA time). The show will be broadcast live on 1 Magic (DStv Channel 103) with a repeat at 21:30. 

Reigning Miss Universe Zozibini Tunzi of South Africa will crown her successor at the end of the event.

Representing South Africa is Natasha Joubert, and South Africans are hoping for the “magic double” – back-to-back consecutive wins, which has only happened once before in the pageant’s history.

Natasha wowed crowds at the national costume competition last week and on Friday impressed during the preliminary round

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Miss Mexico crowned Miss Universe 2021




By AFP Time of article published 16m ago

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Washington – Miss Mexico was crowned Miss Universe on Sunday in Florida, after fellow contestant Miss Myanmar used her stage time to draw attention to the bloody military coup in her country.

Sunday night marked the Miss Universe competition’s return to television, after the pageant was cancelled in 2020 for the first time due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Andrea Meza, 26, finished first ahead of the Brazilian and Peruvian finalists in a flashy televised event, hosted by American actor Mario Lopez and television personality Olivia Culpo.

Former Miss Universe contestants Cheslie Kryst, Paulina Vega and Demi-Leigh Tebow (who won the title in 2017) served as competition analysts and commentators, and a panel of eight women determined the winner.

Dressed in a sparkling red evening gown, Meza tearfully walked the catwalk as Miss Universe for the first time, before rushing back for a group hug with the other competitors.

Meza beat more than 70 contestants from around the globe in the 69th installment of Miss Universe, which was held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida.

In the days leading up to the final competition, Miss Myanmar Thuzar Wint Lwin, who made the top 21, made waves when she used her time in the spotlight to bring attention to the coup in her country.

“Our people are dying and being shot by the military every day,” she said during her biographical video, which showed photos of her taking part in the anti-coup protests. “Therefore I would like to urge everyone to speak out about Myanmar.”

Natasha Joubert, Miss Universe South Africa 2020 competes on stage in Ema Savahl swimwear during the MISS UNIVERSE® Preliminary Competition.

She also won the award for best national costume: during that competition segment on Thursday, she wore an outfit beaded in traditional Burmese patterns and held up a sign that said, “Pray for Myanmar.”

Myanmar has been in uproar since February 1, when the army ousted civilian leader Aung San Suu Kyi.

At least 796 people have been killed by security forces since then, according to a local monitoring group, while nearly 4 000 people are behind bars.

Miss Singapore Bernadette Belle Ong – who did not make the top 21 – also used the national costume portion to make a political statement.

Dressed in a glittering red bodysuit and matching thigh-high boots, she turned around to reveal her cape – in the colours of the Singaporean flag – was painted with the words “Stop Asian Hate.”

“What is this platform for if I can’t use it to send a strong message of resistance against prejudice and violence?” she wrote on Instagram alongside pictures of her outfit.

The United States in particular has seen a surge in anti-Asian violence in the past year, which activists have blamed on former president Donald Trump’s rhetoric, especially his repeated description of Covid-19 as the “China virus.”

The pageant has also drawn criticism in the past for objectifying the contestants.

In recent years, the competition has shifted image, focusing more on female empowerment and activism.

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