May 19, 2020

Cello leads the TV industry by connecting and empowering isolated rural communities

solar power
Brian Palmer
3 min
Cello leads the TV industry by connecting and empowering isolated rural communities

Televisions can be found in over 55 million households across Africa today, but the majority of these are only in cities. 44% of all African families live in rural areas with no grid power (estimated 600 million people), meaning they do not have access to safe and reliable energy. Not too long ago I heard about Lightning Africa helping many areas to become digital TV enabled, but what about those communities without access to this? We were inspired to create a TV that is affordable, safe to use and does not need grid power or a solar installation. Something that could stand on its own and give people TV and lighting in the wilderness.

Television is a big part of people’s lives around the world, but it is more than just an entertainment source. It can bring communities together and connect people in unique ways. Television is a form of education for those Africans that have no other source of contact to the outside world. It can empower woman in ways they never imagined.

Many families still risk fires or illness by inhaling toxic fumes due to the dangerous fuels they burn to generate power. In fact, over 500 million households in Africa still rely on kerosene to light their homes, as well as coal, animal waste and wood. The problem is that these fuels are cheap and easy to obtain. I wanted to find an out of the box solution that could genuinely improve the lives of these families, leading us to create the Cello Solar TV.

This is the first television to include a built-in lithium ion battery, a built-in solar controller and come with its own solar panel and smart antenna. Our biggest challenge was storing the energy the solar panel created, so it could be used efficiently and ensure the TV remained operational for a reasonable amount of time. This led to us developing our own patented ‘Smart Energy Management’ system, ensuring up to 10 hours of running time.

The Cello Solar TV has also helped to bring light into African homes safely through the addition of light bulbs, which can be plugged in and powered through the Solar TV. Plus, the USB ports allow families to easily charge devices from the comfort of their home, no longer needing to walk for miles to the local charging point. And getting your hands on the Solar TV is not difficult either, with a PAYgoTV scheme available to those not wanting to commit to regular monthly payments.

The point we wanted to make when manufacturing the Cello Solar TV is that it is available and accessible to everyone – even to those who still feel marginalised and isolated in today’s world. Here at Cello we specialise in creating televisions for niche markets. On a business scale you may assume that the Solar TV market is small, but there are still many people across the world that can benefit from digital and satellite television, which has an empowering effect on rural communities.   

We may be a small British company, but we have big ideas and we’re not afraid to push boundaries to make television enjoyable for everyone.

Brian Palmer is the CEO of Cello Electronics

Share article

May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.

Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.

Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.

When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”

And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.

Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work

By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.

“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”

These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.

Repetitive tasks that can be automated

Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”

These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.

“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”

Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.

Five business areas that can be automated

Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.

  1. Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
  5. Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.

“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”


Share article