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With a growing need to allow for programmatic querying of data against the ComoDash data lake, we have enabled the user to:

* Use software applications to programmatically query Dash and extract data

* Easily get set up in Python using the Python SDK

* Upload the resulting data back into the data lake

Full documentation on how to get started can be found here.

If you have any questions, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch!

Many insurance agencies are finding it increasingly difficult to stay competitive. New technologies provide improved ways to serve clients, but we find that insurers often don’t use these developments to their full advantage. In order to meet modern challenges and thrive, it’s imperative that insurers break out of their comfort zones and leverage software systems in their favour.

This article will look at three avenues you can take to refine your systems and the pros and cons of each approach. With this information, you’ll have the power to select the best system to take your company forward.

Option #1: Buy an off-the-shelf solution

There are a number of pre-developed systems that you can buy and fit into how you do business. The developers of these systems have considered what businesses need and put it all together for you. Your competitors are most likely already using these products.

The upside of ready-made systems is that you can have them up and running in your business quite quickly. The only potential barrier is the amount of time it will take for you and your team to learn the system and implement it in your business.

This is your lowest cost option as well. Because it has already been developed and rolled out to the market, the business can typically offer this solution to you for a reasonable monthly fee.

You can also expect good service and a dedicated customer care team from an off-the-shelf solution. This makes using the product a far less daunting task. If anything happens and you are out of your depth, there is someone you can rely on to help you.

The con of this option is that you are choosing an inflexible system. You’re going to need to fit how your business runs into the system, rather than fitting the system into your business. Although an off-the-shelf solution offers unparalleled convenience, the lack of flexibility may ultimately limit your company’s future value, especially when it comes to releasing innovative products that are unique to the market..

You’ll also discover that this offering has a limited lifespan within your business. Because your business is growing and you don’t have extensive input into which new features are added to the system, you may find that future system upgrades are no longer in line with your needs as your business grows. You’ll decide to head your separate ways at some point.

And lastly, you are dependent on the product provider for the system that you are using. You’re going to need to fit in with them to some extent and make the system work for you.

Option #2: Customise an off-the-shelf solution

There are some solutions that give you more input into your system’s features and design than a conventional off-the-shelf system does. Comotion’s offering falls in this range. As a pro, this model offers you a scaffold which can be customised according to what you need from your system. It has the ready-made structure of an off-the-shelf solution, but you can also focus on what’s important to your business.

With this option your business is the hero and your system is tailored to help you reach your objectives. You’re in the driver’s seat, rather than being forced to go along with someone else’s idea of what your business journey should be.

A customised off-the-shelf solution may cost more than a straight-off-the-shelf solution, but it’s not as expensive as a custom development solution. This additional cost covers the support you’ll receive to make the solution work for your business and to solve any problems you may encounter.

Even though this option is more customisable than an off-the-shelf solution, there are still limitations to the customisation you can do. You will still be choosing an option that is not specifically designed for your business. This is a possible drawback, as there will certainly be things you need to adapt to - but far less than with a purely off-the-shelf solution.

This approach also takes a little bit longer to get up and running for your business. This is because customisation needs to take place, along with the training time your team will need to use the product effectively in your business.

Again, with this option you are dependent on the product provider for the system that you are using.

Option #3: Develop your own solution

There is a freedom that comes with developing your own system. You can make it do whatever you want it to do and have it function in a way that works with your current systems and the way you would like your business to run. You’re also not dependent on a service provider and their way of doing things.

The power behind your own development process is that you can enhance the system as you go, implementing improved solutions as you discover them. This freedom is a big drawcard for development projects.

Developing your own system is the most expensive option you can choose, and it’s risky. It’s also easy to lose sight of the initial scope when developing your own system. While you’re developing your solution, you’ll think of other things you want to accomplish. You’ll often be tempted to change the way things operate because the first plan wasn’t the greatest and you only discover these speed bumps with practice and testing. Every revision will cost you money and increase the learning curve of coming to grips with the system and its processes.

Because you are creating your own system, the time to market will be much longer than the other two options, not to mention the additional HR demand of leading a development team. As with most projects, the timeline is likely to be extended because of changes you will want to be implemented along the way.

The main point behind this exercise is to help you understand and identify the solution for your business. At the end of the day, you need the right fit for you to make your business work more smoothly and be more profitable.

You can contact us for a demo of how Comotion works to get an idea of what the middle-ground between customisation and convenience looks like.

Food security is not a new concept; it's a problem that we face globally. We know that hunger and malnutrition need to be addressed. These issues have been identified as a significant problem and are central to the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Annually, farmers produce enough food to feed everyone across the world. However, our food’s journey from farm to table isn’t always straightforward. Food security is compromised early on by food loss in different parts of the agricultural system. Harvesting, handling, processing, packaging and distribution all contribute to this phenomenon. This produce often ends up in a landfill rather than being distributed to those who need it. Food loss occurs at especially high volumes in Africa, as not every farmer has the knowledge, equipment or systems to prevent it.

Agricultural practices are another area of concern. With the global focus on food security, there has been a big drive to ensure that food is available to everyone. For this reason, many farmers have adopted monocropping practices to improve food supply. Growing the same crop year after year on the same land may deliver higher yields, but it also means that communities eat less varied diets and have access to fewer nutrients. Although hunger may be partially addressed by adopting monocropping practices, malnutrition remains a problem.

COVID-19 has introduced new threats to food security since the beginning of 2020. Labour shortages complicate food production and distribution. In Africa, women produce 70% of the food available to the market. Women are also often the primary caregivers in their communities, tasked with looking after the ill at the expense of participating in the labour market. The shortage of women’s labour has a devastating impact on food loss on the African continent.

Food waste takes place much later in the farm-to-table journey than food loss does. Wastage occurs in the supermarket and the home. Large volumes of fresh produce from supermarkets end up on the landfill, as they haven’t been bought before the best-before date. Large-scale discounting on fresh produce encourages higher income consumers to buy more than they need. This means that most of that food goes to waste in people’s fridges, rather than being consumed by those who would actually benefit from it. Consumers’ purchasing behaviours have also changed in response to COVID-19. The phenomenon of fear-induced buying motivated by COVID-19 events threatens food supply and availability.

The consequences of food loss and food waste are dire. These phenomena both contribute to the increase of waste in our landfills. Lost or wasted food could have been managed to serve people better, but instead it places further pressure on the environment. The annual carbon footprint of wasted food is approximately 3.3 billion tons of carbon dioxide equivalents. It’s clear that we need a new way of looking at this problem.

The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and Comotion are working together to develop a solution to this widespread issue. Through harnessing the power of the 4th Industrial Revolution, they are developing a digital platform to address the issues in the agricultural chain.

FANRPAN is an Africa-wide network that brings existing policy institutions with technical expertise together with food, agriculture and natural resources (FANR) stakeholders to collaborate in addressing policy bottlenecks. It promotes research to generate evidence that is used to inform and influence policy processes at national and regional levels, and provides a platform for multi-stakeholder dialogue on FANR issues to drive change.

Comotion uses technology to provide digital solutions to real-world problems. They develop innovative and responsive systems to meet the needs of their clients.

Together, FANRPAN and Comotion have come up with a “smart” digital technology platform that will enable actors along the food supply chain (e.g., producers, processors, distributors, retailers, wholesalers and consumers) to collectively reduce food waste. Called the Digital Food Bin, this app will allow users to interact with the food production cycle in a new and profound way. The food chain is simplified on the app to include three main sectors: contributors, logistics and beneficiaries. The opportunities in this chain are almost endless.

Contributors may be farmers with excess crops, or supermarkets who have more food products than they can sell before their expiry dates. Logistics are entities that move food products, whilst beneficiaries are end users of the food. For example, beneficiaries could include school and community feeding schemes, small-scale livestock farmers in need of animal feed, or bioenergy plants producing clean energy from food waste.

The contributor makes their excess food products available to the Digital Food Bin app, either for a fee or as a donation. Beneficiaries post their need for food products on the app, where excess products are matched with beneficiaries’ needs. Logistics complete the transaction by availing transport services between contributors and beneficiaries.

The Digital Food Bin opens up a unique opportunity to reduce food loss and waste, as it interacts with a number of components of the food production and distribution journey. A linear relationship from farm to table becomes a cycle that holistically improves food security by reducing loss and waste that contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.

Not only does this address a real-world problem, but the Digital Food Bin will also allow FANRPAN to collect relevant data on the agriculture sector to inform policy processes. This data can then be used to identify gaps in policies, education and support that are needed to achieve SDG 2 on ending hunger in the world.

This project is in process and further details will be shared in due course.

For more information about FANRPAN and their efforts, you can visit them here:

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