Why media production teams are adopting cloud-based solutions for a post-Covid world

“Change is inevitable … growth is optional,” says John C Maxwell, internationally recognised leadership expert and best-selling author.

As a renowned leadership guru, Maxwell may have been talking in general terms, but for media organisations in these tumultuous times, change has come along like an unstoppable tidal wave, with solutions to the challenge of remote working needing to be found. The question is – sink or swim?

So how do traditional media organisations, or any business with a digital community, prepare for this new remote working reality in a way that is sustainable into the future? Here’s why organisations should be looking to the cloud.

Collaboration

For content teams of photographers, social media managers or journalists, the ability to share multimedia from anywhere in the world, at any time, is critical.

Remotely uploading multimedia content onto a traditional in-house server, via a VPN for instance, is cumbersome at best, while other means of sharing content, via WhatsApp or file-sharing platforms, is inefficient, wasting valuable time, with no standard workflow or centralised archive in place.

Cloud-based workflow platforms solve this problem by allowing content producers to access and share media in real time on any device, negating geographical limitations and standardising the way media is collected from the field.

Cloud-based workflow platforms solve this problem by allowing content producers to access and share media in real time on any device

MojoReporter is an AWS-powered media workflow platform that increases the amount of valuable, monetisable media produced, allowing private teams to collect and submit digital content via mobile or the web to an access-controlled web dashboard – not only simplifying and speeding up the remote production process but centralising incoming multimedia assets in the cloud for future use and republishing.

Protecting your digital assets

It’s not just media organisations that need to protect their valuable digital assets; brands of all kinds are operating more and more like media organisations, communicating to customers and wider digital communities via multimedia content on social media, web or app platforms.

A centralised repository for storing, safeguarding and distributing your digital assets is crucial, but a physical server that relies on on-site hardware and software is expensive to set up and maintain and offers little in terms of full-scale integration with your other digital platforms or remote accessibility.

A cloud storage solution like BiblioDAM has many benefits, providing a single view of digital assets across multiple business units while allowing authorised users to access assets in the clouds from any device, anywhere in the world.

A cloud storage solution like BiblioDAM has many benefits, providing a single view of digital assets across multiple business units

Multiple taxonomy layers, coupled with a powerful Elasticsearch engine, mean no matter how much media you collect, searches are lighting fast – ensuring you’re never forced to scratch around in folders on a network drives, or on external hard drives, to find the media assets you require for your social media post, campaign, news item or more.

Remote distribution

Simplicity when it comes to distribution, it’s what every media organisation craves right now, given the complexity of executing a content strategy in a remote environment.

But with modern audiences demanding choice in the way they consume content, simplicity is becoming harder to find, with media needing to be distributed across multiple channels – including websites, native apps and video OTT platforms to name a few – in order to satisfy audiences’ consumption habits.

With modern audiences demanding choice in the way they consume content, simplicity is becoming harder to find

Cloud CMS platforms like BaobabSuite enable centralised publishing, media distribution and, most importantly, monetisation of digital content from anywhere in the world, on practically any device, meaning you could be publishing organisational content from your home office or a beach in Mauritius, while maintaining centralised control of content across multiple apps and websites.

What’s more, your overworked media department will thank you, with a platform that is integrated and accessible anytime, anywhere on any device; allowing them to focus on what they do best – telling great stories.

www.publisherstoolbox.com

Global public cloud revenue to grow to $258 billion in 2020, Gartner report

The worldwide public cloud services market is forecast to grow 6.3 per cent in 2020 to total $257.9 billion, up from $242.7 billion in 2019, according to Gartner, Inc.

Desktop as a service (DaaS) is expected to have the most significant growth in 2020, increasing 95.4 per cent to $1.2 billion. DaaS offers an inexpensive option for enterprises that are supporting the surge of remote workers and their need to securely access enterprise applications from multiple devices and locations.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, there were a few initial hiccups but cloud ultimately delivered exactly what it was supposed to,” said Sid Nag, research vice president at Gartner. “It responded to increased demand and catered to customers’ preference of elastic, pay-as-you-go consumption models.”

Software as a service (SaaS) remains the largest market segment and is forecast to grow to $104.7 billion in 2020.

 The continued shift from on-premises license software to subscription-based SaaS models, in conjunction with the increased need for new software collaboration tools during COVID-19, is driving SaaS growth. The second-largest market segment is cloud system infrastructure services, or infrastructure as a service (IaaS), which is forecast to grow 13.4 per cent to $50.4 billion in 2020. The effects of the global economic downturn are intensifying organizations’ urgency to move off of legacy infrastructure operating models.

Public cloud services serve as the one bright spot in the outlook for IT spending in 2020. Cloud spending in many regions is expected to grow rapidly as economies reopen and more normal economic activity resumes, with regions such as North America expecting to return to higher spending levels as early as 2022.

“The use of public cloud services offer CIOs two distinct advantages during the COVID-19 pandemic: cost scale with use and deferred spending,” said Mr. Nag. “CIOs can invest significantly less cash upfront by utilizing cloud technology rather than scaling up on-premises data center capacity or acquiring traditional licensed software.”

“Any debate around the utility of public cloud has been put aside since the onset of COVID-19. For the remainder of 2020, organizations that expand remote work functionality will prioritize collaboration software, mobile device management, distance learning educational solutions and security, as well as the infrastructure to scale to support increased capacity.”

www.gartner.com

[Nigeria] eHealth Africa leverages Amazon Web Services cloud solutions to bolster operations

eHealth Africa, a non-profit organization that designs and implements digital health solutions in West Africa is leveraging on Amazon Web Services, AWS, cloud’s expertise which is designed to support every stage of their business in order to increase their chances of continuing their mission.

AWS has been working with health care providers in Africa to innovate, build new products and services and launch new applications.  

“As a small team and self-funded startup, we needed to move fast and couldn’t afford to waste development resources on infrastructure maintenance. AWS has so far offered managed solutions of almost everything we need. We are continuously surprised how well AWS services can work together, compared to having more infrastructure, as a service provider. Services which would normally require manual installation, maintenance and configuration are now easily set up on the console, “said Kobus Smit, CEO and founder of eHealth Africa.

Enterprises of larger scales typically have the budget for sophisticated technologies to streamline their business processes and expand their technological advantage. Cloud computing however enables the smallest of businesses to effortlessly access the reliable power of this innovative technology and rapidly grow.

Leveraging the right solutions and services enables companies such as eHealth to experiment with technologies that may otherwise be out of reach and expand their operations into the communities they target.

For eHealth Africa AWSprovides unrivalled levels of security, data protection, and compliance which is paramount to us as an organization that processes and stores large volumes of client data – bringing stakeholders peace of mind that their data is secure across all our digital platforms.

 In addition to leveraging AWS services such as Amazom ECS Fargate for its backend coupled with Amazon Lambda, the arrival of the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region allows the company to deliver an enhanced service to its clients with reduced latency, ease of localised deployment, and simplifies their data protection requirements.

This has produced an ideal synergy of information technology and logistics and is the reason why a major objective of eHealth Africa has always been to host on and benefit from the use of AWS products.

To balance the need to protect health care data with the desire to innovate quickly, companies such as e-Health Africa look to embrace hybrid IT solutions that maintain control over existing network environments while using cloud technology to extend their services to underserved communities with tools to lead healthier lives.

AWS will therefore remain firmly on track to enhance eHealth’s capabilities and ensure they keep pace with the digital transformation that is a necessity for the growth of businesses across the continent.

www.ehealthafrica.org

aws.amazon.com

[Column] James Bayhack: The value of mobile marketing cloud technology

Marketing ultimately drives the sales of any business. Without it, many companies wouldn’t sell their products or services and wouldn’t survive in a highly competitive environment. By empowering organisations to reach their target audience, marketing has become a modern-day business essential, particularly in trying times.

As tech evolves at a rapid pace, so do marketing solutions – businesses are spoilt for choice with a wide range of marketing platforms that elevate customer communication. Arguably the most powerful of these is marketing cloud technology: an innovative and integrated suite of digital marketing tools that your team can start using today to improve customer experience and business performance.

Why marketing cloud software?

Depending on your software vendor of choice, marketing cloud technology has many capabilities and benefits. In general, these web-based services make it possible to communicate with your customers across digital platforms, including via the web, email, social media and mobile messaging channels. This is increasingly important, considering that we live, work and socialise in a digitally connected world.

Additionally, marketing cloud technology enables organisations to automate the customer journey in real-time, send targeted content and tap into impactful data analytics.

Informative and consistent customer data underpins the best marketing cloud software, allowing businesses to collect demographic and behavioural data from multiple sources and organise these insights on one centralised platform.

Customer data: The bedrock of cloud marketing

By bringing together customer information and interactions in an integrated platform, a marketing cloud helps organisations to form a complete understanding of their customers, their needs and the ways they interact with brands.

Instead of siloed, anonymous users, a marketing cloud converts data into 360° unified customer profiles that can be used to build unique segments and deliver more personalised and meaningful marketing campaigns using campaign management tools and visual workflow builders.

When you understand who your customers are, you can deliver hyper-personalised experiences across the entire customer journey. Recent research shows that proactively managing and investing in customer experience increases retention, satisfaction and revenue, meaning that a marketing cloud drives business success in the long run.

Mobile marketing is a top priority

Considering consumers spend most of their time on their mobile phones, it makes sense to opt for a marketing cloud that is uniquely focused on mobile. A mobile marketing cloud goes beyond personalised content and reaches customers where they want to be reached – on their personal devices via SMS, Email, WhatsApp and more.

By connecting with your customers on their preferred mobile messaging channels, you’ll be captivating their attention and catering to their needs – two key differentiators that will help your brand and your products or services to stand out.

Finding an omnichannel cloud platform that also enables commerce on mobile channels, offers added advantages. With payment links integrated into emails, WhatsApp chats and web pages, your customers can seamlessly make purchases, elevating the conversion process.

A marketing cloud is a compelling tool that can help future-proof any business, especially those that put their customers’ needs first. As customer-centricity becomes increasingly important, using technology that enables us to connect with and serve our customers is critical.

James Bayhack is the Director of sub-Saharan Africa at CM.com

[South Africa] Teraco endorses Routed move to join African Cloud Exchange

South Africa Vendor-neutral data centre, Teraco, has welcomed Routed, a cloud infrastructure provider and VMware Cloud Verified partner, as a local cloud provider to join the African Cloud Exchange (ACX).

Created to improve enterprise hybrid and multi-cloud performance through direct interconnection, Teraco’s African Cloud Exchange provides secure, direct, flexible network connections to a wide range of local and global cloud service providers.

As Africa’s first VMware Cloud Verified partner and one of the biggest, Routed now offers a VMWare cloud platform for clients seeking access to multiple cloud environments.  Routed has also recorded four years of 100% uptime and has achieved notable market share within the ISP sector.

Andrew Cruise, Managing Director, Routed, says that the company is also the only African provider of Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) within VMware’s vSphere 7 client software and that bringing the VMware cloud platform to ACX is another key milestone: “Multi-cloud strategies are growing in adoption as they mitigate service disruption and also reduce vendor lock-in. Routed, as a member of ACX, strengthens the ecosystem and will undoubtedly help in driving businesses to the cloud, which is one of the fastest-growing segments of IT spend.”

Andrew Owens, Manager of Interconnection & Peering at Teraco, says that the premise of ACX is to assist in the local drive towards the cloud, but in a secure and correct way: “While there was no time-pressure for businesses to adopt a cloud methodology, it is rapidly evolving, and the cloud is becoming a vital tool for any business wanting to succeed. ACX is a technology-neutral and growing ecosystem, and we are excited to welcome a local cloud provider such as Routed and its VMware platform.”

Teraco’s Owens says that ACX was developed to fully integrate with all cloud providers, adopting a modular, template-driven approach. “ACX will accommodate any cloud provider’s API: ultimately, we want to make it easy for the providers and clients to sell their products. By simply logging onto a portal, ACX enables provisioning of network circuits to any cloud provider, immediately reducing the administrative headaches of getting people connected.”

Dave Funnell, Senior Cloud Provider Manager, VMware Sub-Saharan Africa, says that in reality cloud is an operating model, not just a destination, and as such will often require a collaborative solution: “The inclusion of Routed in the Africa Cloud Exchange is a great example of collaboration in the cloud market. The benefit to customers is the availability of a fully verified VMware Private Cloud, delivered from a secure multi-tenanted platform with all the benefits expected from a cloud solution. Its location is also a major drawcard, with direct network connectivity to the public hyperscale clouds in the leading data centre provider in Africa.”

Funnell says that importantly, this will allow customers to accelerate the adoption of cloud services in the knowledge that their applications will run predictably in a robust, highly available environment, with the flexibility required for a successful business to adapt and grow: “Working with both Routed and Teraco on this initiative has been a rewarding experience. I look forward to engaging with VMware customers of all sizes, as they take advantage of the enterprise-grade cloud services being brought to market by Routed and Teraco.”

www.teraco.co.za

www.routed.co.za

Global public cloud market poised to reach $596 billion by 2020, report

The global public cloud market size is expected to reach $596 billion by 2027, expanding at a compounded growth rate of 14.6 per cent from 2020 to 2027, according to a new study conducted by Grand View Research, Inc.

Owing to the high scalability and reduced operational costs offered by cloud services in the wake of digital transformation of industries, the market is witnessing rapid growth. Moreover, enterprises across the globe are gradually adopting public cloud technology to rapidly build, test, and release quality software products.

The public cloud is a multi-tenant environment, which offers rapid elasticity and high scalability with capability to consume resources on a pay-per-use basis. Governments and institutions are planning gradually to completely integrate its conventional systems with these computing technologies.

As a part of the IT Modernization effort, U.S Federal Government had initiated Cloud Smart Strategy in October 2018 to improve citizen-centric services, accessibility, and maintain cybersecurity.

Moreover, adoption of the technology is rapidly gaining importance among Small and Medium Enterprise (SMEs) sector due to the cost competitiveness offered in the market.

Currently, most of the enterprises of varying sizes, are revamping from traditional to digital mode of business.

 The transformation is likely to create potential market for public cloud owing to its benefits such as reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), agility, and flexibility. IBM Corporation states that around 89% of IT professionals expect to move business-critical workloads to cloud, which are driven by the growth in digitization.

Government organizations are also this technology services for storage, disaster recovery, risk compliance management, and identity access management applications.

 In October 2019, amidst corporate hostility, Microsoft Corporation was awarded the U.S Department of Defense contract, Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) worth $10 billion.

www.grandviewresearch.com

Africa debate whether to remain on-premise or move to the cloud

Security, risk, data loss, and legislation. These are the primary concerns listed by organizations and government institutions when asked why they are reluctant to move to the cloud.

 It is the perennial debate – will cloud put the data at risk? Isn’t on-premise more secure? How can the organization ensure it is compliant in light of growing regulatory control over how data is accessed, protected and used?

For many, the answer lies in the tried and trusted foundations of on-premise solutions that have weathered the storms so far. The problem is that this isn’t necessarily the right answer…

Some organizations remain convinced that on-premise is more reliable than the cloud. In Kenya, government guidelines recently approved by President Uhuru Kenyatta – safeguards that are considered to be on a par with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – have put immense pressure on organizations when it comes to data handling and sharing.

When a company faces either a prison sentence or a hefty fine for violating the act, it makes sense for them to panic about security and be more prudent about with which provider to share their personal information with.

This trend is reflected in Nigeria, Ghana and Rwanda where legislation is influencing decision making when it comes to the cloud. In Nigeria, government industries have been advised to stay with their on-premise platforms. Rwanda has clamped down on its personal data protection with regulations around consent from individuals.

South Africa is still toying with its Protection of Personal Information Act, but this is very likely to be signed into law fairly soon. These regulations are all essential in a time when data privacy and security are under scrutiny and the cyber-threat has never been more present. And it makes sense that companies are forming a protective circle around their information and question where and how a provider stores their data before investing into the cloud.

Due to the far-reaching hands of governments, data sovereignty is a primary concern of institutions moving to the cloud. Data sovereignty refers to the fact that information which is stored in the cloud is subject to the laws of the country in which it is physically stored. For some organisations this concern may be warranted, such as highly regulated government organisations storing highly confidential information.

However, even highly regulated organisations are taking advantage of what the cloud has to offer by taking a hybrid approach.

For more sensitive confidential information, the data is stored on-premise, and other processes that are less sensitive, are outsourced to third party cloud providers. This is a reasonable approach. However, most companies don’t have the skilled manpower or budget to build a secure hybrid approach, or even an on-premise solution, which is why not moving to the cloud becomes a business risk.

At the same time the truth is that while many organisations cling to on-premise as the solution, it can be the most dangerous of the two.

Using or not using a cloud provider has no bearing on complying with privacy regulations, as long as adequate safeguards around personal information can be guaranteed. Privacy regulations stipulate organisations take into account the state of the art and industry prior to implementing new solutions. When looking into the information technology landscape today, we can see the moving to the cloud is the most secure, scalable, and reliable way to protect data.

“Professional cloud infrastructures are usually safer and more reliable than many on-premise platforms,” explains Anna Collard at KnowBe4. “One of the most common reasons for this is the lack of security resources organisation can employ. Security skills are hard to come by even globally, and in Africa we only have about 10 000 security professionals across the entire continent. Large companies such as Oracle have employed a security team that is bigger than all the African security professionals together.”

Cloud service providers are in the business of looking after their infrastructure and their client’s data, providing a level of assurance via ISO 27000, PCI DSS, Cloud Security Alliance and other security certifications.  Microsoft Azure or Amazon Web Services (AWS) list of security certs is mind bogglingly long –a feat that is difficult to accomplish unless security or IT infrastructure management is your core business.

Another issue is that people often ask if the security on offer by the cloud service provider is the absolute best on the market. The real question should be whether the security is appropriate for the level of data and services being provided and where the data centre is located to ensure adequate data protection alignment.

“Cloud service providers consider all the angles from auditing to phishing to updates to patches and intrusion detection,” concludes Collard. “Their solutions are designed to not just meet industry standards, but to exceed them. This is not only to ensure the safety and security of the customer, but because their own reputation is on the line if they don’t deliver.”

According to ESG research in January 2020 67% of enterprises use public cloud infrastructure services to support their IT operations. That number is most likely going to increase even more so over the next few months with the Covid-19 pandemic forcing many organisations to set up work from home.

 There is no guaranteed road to risk-free business. Cybercrime is on the rise and it is exceptional sophisticated, leveraging human error and system vulnerability to gain access to systems and damage reputations. Ultimately the cloud is just a third-party provider, the responsibility over the data remains with the data owner, which is the business or organisation processing the data.

Performing a third-party risk assessment and reviewing the cloud provider’s security certifications should be standard practice to ensure adequate security will be applied, regardless of where the data is stored and should help greatly in the decision-making process.

While it’s perfectly understandable for the business to hold onto what it knows – the on-prem solution – cloud has become a powerful and reliable ally that can not only surpass most on-prem solutions, but can do so at a lower cost and with better security.

www.knowbe4.com

[Uganda] Mukwano Industries moves business systems to the cloud to boost efficiency, visibility

Mukwano Industries is one of the great success stories of the Ugandan business world.

From humble beginnings as a general dealer in Kampala in the 1980s, the company has grown into one of the leading FMCG conglomerates in East Africa, with interests that include manufacturing, agriculture and property development.

Its products, ranging from petroleum jelly and detergents to cooking oil and soap; from drinking water to household and commercial plastics; can be found in every home across Uganda.

The major challenge for the company was that its technology infrastructure had not kept pace with its growth. It had implemented SAP ECC 6.0 back in 2008, and the now dated platform was creating a host of issues: numerous custom developments, plant maintenance and operations not implemented, and an enduring dependency on paper-based systems and Excel spreadsheets.

“We had data everywhere, but information nowhere,” says Mukwano CEO Tony Gadhoke. “This meant we had low cost insights and a growing need for operational efficiencies. Something had to give. So we decided to shed our legacy systems and move our core business processes to the Cloud using the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud platform. In doing so, we aimed to leverage Cloud capabilities to improve technical and operational agility, enhance real-time visibility across the business, harmonise data, improve reporting, and enable future growth and innovation.”

There was just one catch: the business insisted on a rapid implementation strategy to reduce the amount of time and resources needed, by around 35%, to implement the project. In effect, this meant replacing Mukwano’s core systems and training the necessary people to be able to go live, within five and a half months.

There were a couple of factors working in Mukwano’s favour: the company wanted a “best practices” SAP system, which meant minimal customisation time.

And partner iMark Technologies’ ‘zero fat’ approach to getting projects done, combined with Mukwano’s highly structured project management approach, ensured the implementation never deviated from its time scale for a moment.

“Apart from the incredibly tight timeframe for the implementation, our biggest challenge was that we were changing the organizational structure completely to align to the SAP system. This meant we had to ensure the right people were in the right positions. To ensure immediate buy-in and adoption of the new system by its users, we ran extensive training sessions every day, with ongoing monitoring of skill absorption, to ensure as high a level of ownership as possible,” said Gadhoke.

This meant cancelling all leave for the duration of the project – including over Christmas and New Year – to ensure every individual was onboard and the project didn’t deviate from the timeline. “It was tough, but we had no choice. There was no room for a redo, and we had to make sure we got it right first time,” said Gadhoke.

Ultimately, the effort was worth it, with the results of the implementation exceeding Mukwano’s already high expectations. In a first for Uganda, the business put its core business systems into the Cloud by the agreed deadline, with minimal disruption to the business.

The company has already seen significant gains in productivity and faster time to market. It has greater visibility into its operations than ever before, through an intuitive, unified platform from which it can oversee its business operations from end-to-end. It has also seen a ‘huge’ reduction in capex on its server infrastructure and IT resources.

Gadhoke said partner iMark Technologies’ experience in the digital transformation of organisations in the East African region was critical to the success of the project. S Iyer, the managing director of iMark, said: “It has been very exciting for us to see how organisations like Mukwano are realising the promise of digital transformation by leveraging SAP technologies and solutions to effect transformational change.

Mukwano has already been able to achieve significant progress in its operational excellence with S/4 HANA, thanks to the incredible analytics functionality that has been unlocked. “The next steps in our journey will be to focus on people performance and excellence. But we’re confident that we have the right platform in place to take the business to the next level,” said Gadhoke.

www.sap.com

[Column] Vukani Mngxati: Enabling remote workers at scale during Covid-19

COVID-19 has turned into a global crisis, evolving at unprecedented speed and scale. Experts don’t know how long it will take to contain the virus so businesses are challenged with not only preparing for the short-term, but also developing new capabilities and ways of working that will seamlessly enable longer-term changes to how they operate.

The most immediate priority should be to protect the health and safety of people. That requires leaders to make rapid, highly-informed decisions, and take actions to protect and support their people while also ensuring that critical business operations continue.

The first step is enabling remote workers at scale. Accenture’s Elastic Digital Workplace roadmap outlines six dimensions which have proven effective in quickly transitioning to a remote workplace environment.

Culture and adoption

For many companies, the shift to remote working can take time to adopt. Tools and coaching are needed to help leaders create the right environment to test and learn, and help people rapidly adopt new ways of working. There are three main aspects:

Radical transparency: embrace a truly human approach: Prepare leaders to be empathetic and available to their teams. Accelerate adoption of collaboration tools by embracing a change champion network to demonstrate and promote behaviours such as document collaboration and using video in virtual meetings.

 Cloud first: Shift away from working on local versions of data and documents by adopting cloud-based applications and storage, which can support everything from document creation and application development, to task management processes and more.

 Optimize for remote working right now: Provide best practices to improve the employee experience, from creating an effective workspace at home, to sharing recommended local network settings. One example is turning off video to improve audio and collaboration during peak network loads.

Elastic collaboration

Elastic collaboration requires a rapid, and in some cases, exponential expansion of your current collaboration capabilities. Case and point: As the largest user of Microsoft Teams in the world, Accenture has 448,000 people communicating and collaborating on the platform.

With the vast majority of our people working remotely due to the pandemic, our usage of Microsoft Teams audio conferencing has more than doubled, from an average of 350 million minutes per month, to 760 million minutes per month; and our use of video conferencing has increased six-fold, from 14 million minutes per month to 84 million minutes per month.

With more employees working remotely, collaboration tools must be able to immediately handle an increase in volume and load while also improving usability and productivity. Actions to consider include:

Adopt and measure collaboration: Expand the existing footprint of collaboration and communication capabilities to employees who need them. Launch an employee education campaign, complete with user stories and relevant examples to encourage adoption.

Cross business enablement: Identify key business contacts and relationships across your ecosystem. Assess current virtual meeting capabilities and deploy a pilot of video and messaging bridging services for seamless interaction with partners, suppliers, and customers.

As a resource for other organisations, Accenture recently worked with Microsoft to launch a Microsoft Teams Rapid Resource Center that provides useful how-to instructions, best practices and additional resources at no cost to help quickly put Teams to work.

Virtual work environment

Virtual work environments provide employees with key resources they need to be productive, such as a secure laptop, and provide seamless access to corporate applications and data. Key aspects that should be addressed include:

Device enablement and mobility: Prioritize enabling workers who have critical roles in driving the business by ensuring they have the tools and access they need. Reclaim devices from users with more than one device and use contractor devices or explore creative sourcing options. Accelerate a “bring your own device” or mobility strategy for remote workers, and provide protections and management solutions.

 Virtual desktops: Implement virtual desktop solutions such as Microsoft, Citrix, VMware or Amazon which offer virtualised workspaces that can extend across boundaries while allowing secure access to remote applications and data for employees who do not have access to secure mobile devices.

Large scale virtual sessions: Enable interactive broadcast and web conference platforms to support the shift from physical to virtual workshops and conferences. Identify and train high touch session facilitators and support to attain the best user experience possible.

Seamless networking

Working productively from home or other remote locations requires seamless, secure, and reliable network connectivity to corporate networks, cloud assets, and to strategic partners. Consider the implementation of the following:

Virtual Private Network (VPN) capacity: Rapidly compliment your traditional VPN technology with new cloud remote access solutions that will improve remote worker experience, performance, and security while alleviating capacity risks on your legacy VPN solution. At the same time, confirm your capacity on traditional remote access technologies.

Remote and home networking: Provide clear and prescriptive guidance to employees about broadband connectivity options and packages in their home locations. Give advice on how to configure the solutions to prioritise voice, video, and collaboration traffic, and help employees troubleshoot issues.

Partner connectivity: Establish a SWAT team to quickly provide, or to expand, business-to business connectivity solutions to strategic partners.

Distributed continuity

The most important thing to get right during the COVID-19 outbreak is the protection of customers, employees, and partners. This requires clearly monitoring and assessing a quickly evolving environment, making rapid business decisions, and communicating clearly and prescriptively to your people on how to navigate the situation.

Monitor and assess: Continuously analyse intelligence from leading health institutions, activate crisis management processes and institute a task force as necessary.

Business planning: Incorporate pandemic planning into your business continuity plans. Run full scale human and department-based continuity tests.

Adaptive security

While moving quickly to enable remote workers to respond to COVID-19 is very important, you cannot do so in a way that puts your business at risk of a security breach. This means rapidly addressing your security protocols and solutions to enable the expansion of remote connectivity, including:

Zero Trust network access: Rapidly deploy a Zero Trust model with built-in technologies to enable secure application access without relying on traditional VPN solutions.

Endpoint managed protection, detection and response: The expanded use of a multitude of devices in potentially less secure locations require additional protection. Build analytics and automation into endpoint management detection and response programs to reduce the amount of human intervention required.

While COVID-19 is serving as the catalyst for an immediate implementation of an elastic digital workplace, the crisis will fundamentally alter how we work and engage. A comprehensive implementation plan will enable companies to quickly scale and dynamically adapt to changing business needs based on global and local conditions.

Vukani Mngxati is the CEO for Accenture in Africa

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CTI Africa selects Vonage to implement telehealth solution in Uganda

Vonage, a global business cloud communications company, has announced that eHealth platform provider CTI Africa Limited has chosen Vonage to power its LifeHealth telehealth system.

With Vonage’s Video API, CTI Africa Limited is bringing advanced telehealth capabilities to the developing world, providing rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa with high quality, affordable medical care and holistic solutions to address economic and social challenges.

Through the LifeHealth system, CTI Africa provides innovative digital health services to its medical insurance clients through a network of 150,000 patients, with more than 5,000 active monthly patients throughout Uganda. Powered by Vonage, LifeHealth provides subscribers with access to medical care via real-time video consultation and video chat wherever they are.

“When we launched the LifeHealth system, we knew we needed seamless, secure and real-time connectivity to provide patients with the best possible care,” said Michael Landau, Founder and CEO of CTI Africa Limited. “Vonage  provided us with the ability to build a solution specific to our unique needs that can also grow and adapt as our needs evolve. Our mission is to create the future of healthcare for the people of Uganda – together, CTI Africa and Vonage are creating a unique and powerful model for all developing countries facing these same challenges.”

“Vonage is honored that an organization like CTI Africa has chosen us to enable the life-changing solutions it is bringing to Uganda,” said Eric Le Guiniec, Global SVP – Communication APIs Sales for Vonage. “As the need for remote and virtual medical care increases, especially during these challenging times, we are proud that Vonage’s video  technology is helping to make healthcare available to those who need it most.”

As demand for solutions to enable virtual medical care has increased during the current global health crisis, usage of Vonage’s Video API has experienced significant growth over the last three months, especially in the telehealth, social and education industries, and has delivered more than 50 billion minutes of video since inception, across a virtually unlimited number of use cases. Vonage powers many of the world’s largest telemedicine providers. Vonage’s video has been a worldwide leader in webRTC video solutions since the webRTC standard was established in 2012.

For organizations like CTI Africa that need the benefit of video conferencing but also have complex compliance and security requirements, the programmability and flexibility of Vonage’s Video APIs enable embedded security measures to protect the privacy and security of patient information.

www.vonage.com

www.ctiafrica.com