[Column] James Bayhack: How mobile service cloud can transform customer experience

Service, service, service. That’s been the call for businesses that want to keep their clients happy and turn one-time customers into lifelong fans. Now, however, the focus has moved to brilliant customer experience. But what does this mean? And why are we seeing the shift?  

Think about how you do business today compared to just a few years ago. Customer service was measured by metrics like how many rings there were before your service department answered. In addition, were your retail staff smiling and pleasant, and did your team respond to a customer email timeously? While customer service is still crucial, there’s a lot more to it in today’s multilayered, omnichannel world of business. 

What is Customer Experience (CX)?

Customer experience is how your customers perceive their interactions with your company or brand.  

From navigating the website to contacting customer service and receiving the product that they ordered, customer experience is the sum of every interaction the customer has with your company. It impacts their feelings and emotions, encompassing their entire customer journey. It also determines whether or not they come back. 

A recent report by integrated customer experience company Ajua found that 81% of Kenyan companies with strong capabilities for delivering customer experience are outperforming their competition. By contrast, 91% of customers will not do business with a company a second time if their first experience is negative.

Findings also suggested that certain industries have upped their CX game and are experiencing growth even in a pandemic. These include banking, insurance, retail, and food and beverage. In the Telco space, Safaricom ranked top in terms of customer experience.

So, some companies are getting it right. Now, the question is, how can you do the same? With such a broad range of expectations, how can you narrow down the most critical factors and eliminate friction where it matters most? You’ll be thrilled to know we’ve done the heavy lifting for you and the easiest solution lies in mobile service cloud.

Here’s how this smart technology helps to solve the most common customer issues.

Creating bulletproof CX in 6 key steps

Omnichannel Inbox

In a single, convenient inbox, you can manage conversations from all channels. This solves the issue of long wait times when customers have a problem or question as it places all communication in one place for easy reference and super-fast response.

It’s common for many customers to conduct research before purchasing something from your company, and checking different platforms is one way of doing this. Whether they trust you or not depends on the quality of information they find and your responses along the way. 

An omnichannel inbox allows you to deliver a brilliant customer experience on all channels. Don’t you agree that it looks unprofessional if you respond quickly via live chat but not at all via Facebook? When customers receive excellent service, they will tell their colleagues and friends about it.

Communication Stream

It’s important to communicate with customers wherever they feel comfortable and wherever they are likely to be. 

Remember, CX is built on the somewhat fickle foundation of customer perception. What makes one person irate may not bother another, so it makes sense to cover all bases. Communication can make or break your CX. Lengthy delays, inefficient processes, or insufficient access to information will have your customers rolling their eyes in frustration. 

Customer experience is about strengthening relationships with customers and building bonds through the use of technology.

Chatbots

It used to be considered bad form to chat with a customer via text or any automated platform, but today it’s the norm. In fact, it’s expected. 

Streamline repetitive tasks by automating them. Our system allows you to create your own chatbot to automate conversations and implement quick replies. Your team can serve customers better and more efficiently if you make service easier and faster for them, without weighing them down with unnecessary and unproductive conversations.

Chatbots can reflect the personality of your brand, answer FAQs, and direct customers to where they need to be. Fast. A super-efficient addition to your customer service team, they don’t require sleep so they’re even more perfect for those after-hours shoppers. Your customers will benefit from swift response times for quick questions or enjoy assistance from stress-free and focused staff.

Team Collaboration

The problem of disjointed communication between internal and external teams ends here, as do many customer frustrations.

Remote employees, global time differences, and communication with external parties can get messy and negatively impact your SLAs. And really, your internal communication choices shouldn’t impact your customer’s experience, should they?

Mobile service cloud alleviates this problem by bringing all players together in one place, allowing conversations to be automatically assigned based on skills, or snoozing conversations as needed. It’s like putting everyone in the same room at the same time, relegating forgotten messages or misplaced communication to a thing of the past.

Customer Profile

Develop customer profiles based on data from your CRM or Customer Data Platform. The integration of systems enables you to provide customers with a quicker, more personal service experience.

Data can be displayed right next to the customer’s questions, so there’s no need to search across multiple systems. Improve customer profiles by including all available data and getting more insights about customer impact.

This key area grants your team the information they need to assist a customer, no matter what platform they come from. All data is immediately available to all employees no matter where they are, which, let’s face it, makes you look good!

Statistics

Customers are the lifeblood of a business. This is why corporations are concentrating on how to develop new business and, importantly, retain existing customers. However, if you don’t know where a problem lies, you won’t know how to fix it. 

Identifying and addressing customer issues can be prevented by using reporting tools that uncover metrics that directly impact your business. Other vital statistics such as ‘response time’ or ‘availability’ highlight how your team is coping with their responsibilities and where improvements can be made. The data in these reports is invaluable to improving customer experience and deep-diving into customer experience metrics.

As effective as your management team may be, they can’t be omnipresent. But having real-time access to your channels, your team, business partners, and any other stakeholders you care to track gives you information worth its weight in gold. 

Boost customer service today!

Businesses that adopt a customer experience strategy enjoy success in key areas: their churn rates are reduced, they increase brand loyalty, and revenues are increased. Surely those advantages are worth exploring?

Ultimately, good customer experiences are the most effective form of marketing with the highest ROI. Successful businesses are simply those with happy customers.

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

Oracle expands global cloud footprint to meet continued triple-digit growth

Oracle has announced plans to expand its cloud region footprint to support strong customer demand for Oracle Cloud services worldwide.

Over the next year, Oracle will open 14 cloud regions with new locations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Latin America. Upcoming cloud regions include Milan (Italy), Stockholm (Sweden), Marseille (France), Spain, Singapore (Singapore), Johannesburg (South Africa), Jerusalem (Israel), Mexico, and Colombia.

 Additional second regions will open in Abu Dhabi (U.A.E.), Saudi Arabia, France, Israel, and Chile. Oracle plans to have at least 44 cloud regions by the end of 2022, continuing one of the fastest expansions of any major cloud provider.

Oracle provides a broad and consistent set of cloud services across 30 commercial and government cloud regions in 14 countries on five continents to serve its growing global customer base. OCI currently operates 23 commercial regions and seven government regions, in addition to multiple dedicated and national security regions.

“Oracle Cloud Infrastructure has seen stellar growth over the past year,” said Clay Magouyrk, executive vice president, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure. “We’ve introduced several hundred new cloud services and features and are continuing to see organizations from around the world increasingly turn to OCI to run their most mission-critical workloads in the cloud. With the additional Cloud regions, even more organizations will be able to use our cloud services to support their growth and overall success.”

To help customers build true business continuity and disaster protection, while helping them address their in-country data residence requirements, Oracle plans to establish at least two cloud regions in almost every country where it operates. The U.S., Canada, U.K., South Korea, Japan, Brazil, India, and Australia already have two cloud regions.

Oracle’s strategy is to meet customers where they are, enabling customers to keep data and services where they need it. Customers can deploy Oracle Cloud completely within their own data centers with Dedicated Region and Exadata Cloud@Customer, deploy cloud services locally with public cloud-based management, or deploy cloud services remotely on the edge with Roving Edge Infrastructure.

High Availability, Disaster Protection, and Dual Region Cloud Strategy

OCI’s next-generation architecture provides a high-performing, resilient foundation for cloud services, while its physical and virtual network design maximizes performance and security. For example, each Oracle Cloud region contains at least three fault domains, which are groupings of hardware that form logical data centers for high availability and resilience to hardware and network failures. Some regions (Ashburn, Phoenix, Frankfurt, and London) provide further resilience to entire data centers through multiple availability domains (ADs), which each contain three fault domains.

For business continuity and compliance requirements, Oracle’s unique dual-region cloud strategy enables customers to deploy resilient applications in multiple geographically separated locations—without having sensitive data leave the country. To help customers plan data center deployments to meet application requirements and optimize their cloud infrastructure, OCI’s provides a no cost inter-region latency dashboard that provides insights into real-time and historical latency for Oracle Cloud regions around the globe.

Sustainability

Oracle is committed to sustainability and has pledged to power all Oracle Cloud regions worldwide with 100 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Several Oracle Cloud regions, including regions in North America, South America, and Europe are already powered by 100 percent renewable energy, and all Oracle Cloud regions use state-of-the-art energy management and cooling technologies to minimize their impact on the environment.

As part of its renewable energy clean Cloud initiative, Oracle reused or recycled 99.6 percent of its retired hardware in FY21 while strictly adhering to Oracle’s data privacy and security practices.

Cloud Regions Deliver All Cloud Services and Multicloud

Oracle Cloud regions support every Oracle service and feature and are available to customers anywhere in the world. This includes Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Container Engine for Kubernetes, Oracle Cloud VMware solution, and Oracle Fusion Cloud Applications.

OCI’s extensive network of more than 70 FastConnect global and regional partners offer customers dedicated connectivity to Oracle Cloud regions and OCI services—providing customers with the best options anywhere in the world. FastConnect provides an easy, elastic, and economical way to create a dedicated and private network connection with higher bandwidth, lower latency, and more consistent performance versus public Internet-based connections.

In addition, OCI and Microsoft Azure have a strategic partnership that enables joint customers to run workloads across the two clouds. This partnership provides a low latency, cross-cloud interconnect between OCI and Azure in eight regions (Ashburn, Toronto, London, Amsterdam, Tokyo, San Jose, Vinhedo and Frankfurt), federated identity for joint customers to deploy applications across both clouds, and a collaborative support model. Customers can run full stack applications in a multi-cloud configuration, while maintaining high-performance connectivity without requiring re-architecture.

They can also migrate existing applications or develop cloud native applications that use a mix of OCI and Azure services.

www.oracle.com

Global cloud computing services industry to reach $937.5 billion by 2027, report

Amid the COVID-19 crisis, the global market for Cloud Computing Services estimated at $313.1 Billion in the 2020, is projected to reach a revised size of $937.5 Billion by 2027, growing at a Compound annual growth rate, CAGR, of 17% over the analysis period 2020-2027.

Infrastructure as a Service, one of the segments analyzed in the report, is projected to record a 18.4% CAGR and reach US$449.3 Billion by the end of the analysis period. 

After an early analysis of the business implications of the pandemic and its induced economic crisis, growth in the Platform as a Service segment is readjusted to a revised 16.2% CAGR for the next 7-year period.

The Cloud Computing Services market in the U.S. is estimated at US$84.2 Billion in the year 2020. China, the world’s second largest economy, is forecast to reach a projected market size of US$222.5 Billion by the year 2027 trailing a CAGR of 22.1% over the analysis period 2020 to 2027. 

Among the other noteworthy geographic markets are Japan and Canada, each forecast to grow at 12% and 15.1% respectively over the 2020-2027 period. Within Europe, Germany is forecast to grow at approximately 13.4% CAGR.

In the global Software as a Service segment, USA, Canada, Japan, China and Europe will drive the 14.2% CAGR estimated for this segment. These regional markets accounting for a combined market size of US$57.7 Billion in the year 2020 will reach a projected size of US$145.7 Billion by the close of the analysis period.

China will remain among the fastest growing in this cluster of regional markets. Led by countries such as Australia, India, and South Korea, the market in Asia-Pacific is forecast to reach US$145.6 Billion by the year 2027, while Latin America will expand at a 16.8% CAGR through the analysis period.

www.researchandmarkets.com

Standard bank selects TCS BaNCS cloud for digital claims transformation in short term insurance

Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), a global IT services, consulting and business solutions organization, announced that Standard Bank’s short-term insurance business in South Africa has selected TCS BaNCS™ Cloud for Insurance to power its digital claims transformation and reaffirm its leadership in the region.

TCS BaNCS Cloud for Insurance will be offered on a SaaS model on AWS Cloud and will help the insurer harmonize more than 60 products spread across four claims administration platforms, enabling faster and accurate claims processing. The solution will also integrate with 16 different downstream applications including the enterprise GL system, payment gateway, CRM, business intelligence solutions, as well as all other peripheral systems identified in Standard Bank Insurance’s technology roadmap.

Combined with a cloud-first approach, a faster claims processing engine and high configurability, the solution will help Standard Bank Insurance improve operational efficiency and streamline claims management. TCS BaNCS APIs will help Standard Bank Insurance connect to ancillary systems easily and offer personalized experiences to their customers. Additionally, TCS’ analytics and data-driven insights tool will help in decreasing customer churn and speed up decision-making related to claims settlements.

Dr Nolwandle Mqoqi, Head of Insurance, Standard Bank South Africa, said, “Customer satisfaction and loyalty are of utmost importance to us and with TCS BaNCS Cloud for Insurance’s SaaS-based solution, we expect to vastly improve policy holder claims experiences, deliver superior performance in a secure environment and benefit from the scale that a highly configurable solution offers. We have been a leading cloud adopter in the region and selecting TCS BaNCS Cloud as one of the partners is the next step in this journey. Availing TCS’ analytics tool for intelligent insights, we will approach product innovation differently, take advantage of new opportunities and deliver differentiated customer experiences.”
R Vivekanand, Co-Head, TCS Financial Solutions. TCS cherishes the over 20-year relationship with the Standard Bank Group and our long-standing commitment to the South African financial services industry. We are pleased to be selected as the strategic partner to the company for this engagement. TCS BaNCS Cloud for Insurance will help Standard Bank’s short-term insurance enhance customer experience, reduce operational risk, improve claims efficiencies, and take advantage of emerging opportunities by seamlessly collaborating with an extended innovation ecosystem of insurtechs. This claims transformation sets up Standard Bank well for its next leg of thought leadership and client-centered delivery in the South African market.”

TCS BaNCS Cloud for Insurance is an end-to-end rules-driven core insurance platform spanning capabilities in underwriting, customer policy servicing, claim processing, co-insurance, finance, reporting and branch operations across P&C, Health and Life insurance businesses.
This SaaS offering has been adopted by banks and financial institutions of varying sizes across the globe for its future-ready digital architecture, functionality, business agility and operational efficiency.

Its proven application architecture ensures anytime, anywhere digital access, scalability, resilience, high performance, and compliance. Cloud agnostic, it ensures that customers gain from a standardized and consistent platform.

With a predictable and committed roadmap, systematic regulatory updates, and a complete operational model it provides customers with the reassurance to concentrate on their core competencies rather than on building and maintaining costly IT infrastructure. TCS BaNCS Cloud handles over 100 million transactions per month for more than 220 customers across the world.

www.tcs.com

www.standardbank.com

A future-proof data centre environment is key to digital transformation in Africa, WSP

According to a recent report, Africa needs 700 data centre facilities to meet growing demand for capacity and density in today’s digitally-driven operating environment. This is easier said than done given the power, land, and water requirements of modern data centres. And yet, this has become a non-negotiable at a time when cloud adoption has accelerated and become a top business priority. 

“These mission-critical facilities require resilient infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted services that enable business, operations, and systems to function effectively and continuously – especially given the ongoing lockdown conditions still experienced in many African countries, but for a post pandemic future too. Uptime is key, and in a world where distributed work has become normalised, no organisation can afford to experience any disruptions especially when geographically dispersed employees are accessing systems in cloud environments,” says Peter Hodgkinson, Managing Director, WSP, Building Services, Africa. 

The African data centre market size is expected to top $3 billion by 2025 at a compound annual growth rate of over 12% during the 2019 to 2025 forecasting period. Furthermore, more than 70% of companies in the region will shift to the cloud. This will only increase as more countries invest in better connectivity and infrastructure to manage data centre facilities. To this end, partnerships between government and the private sector must be strengthened to create an enabling environment for the development of modern data centres that are future-proof by design. 

“The investment required for the building of a data centre is significant. As such, these must be developed to meet the urgent and immediate needs of businesses operating in a highly volatile market still being challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic. But perhaps, even more importantly, they need to be resilient and sustainable to make them future-proof on a continent where resources like water and electricity are scarce and must be managed as efficiently as possible,” adds Hodgkinson.

An example of this is the challenge of managing the consumption of power and huge quantity of heat generated by a data centre that processes a massive amount of data. And further complicating matters is that traditional data centre designs have fixed set points that do not allow for any adaptability regarding external environmental factors. It is therefore important to install a solution that optimises energy efficiency by adjusting the amount of direct fresh air and humidity in the system while factoring in external factors such as the weather. 

“Data centres require the highest level of precision when it comes to their design. Optimising this process through Building Information Modelling (BIM), a digital representation of physical and functional characteristics of a facility, can make significant inroads of ensuring the modern data centre reflects the unique environmental demands of Africa. Aspects such as fire protection, building design, power and cooling systems, security, facility management systems, and sustainability are all critical in this regard,” says Hodgkinson.

In addition, and given the complexity of managing resources across Africa, the operational profile of data centres must also remain cognisant of energy savings and carbon emission reductions as core environmental priorities. 

Hodgkinson says: “Energy security is a critical consideration. Given the purpose of a data centre, being able to offer nearest to 100% uptime is not only a key market differentiator, but increasingly a non-negotiable in this digital age. However, most markets across Africa experience some level of unstable power supply at best. This is also compounded by pressure to rethink resource reliance in line with sustainability practices. And the data centre environment is no different.”

Typically, data centres are power hungry, however, to meet uptime conditions and manage customer expectations power management solutions – including resilient and backup power infrastructure, or self-powering solutions to offset reliance on grid power – is business critical in the African data centre market. Additionally, with the global shift towards net zero, more emphasis is being placed on architects and consulting engineers to continue to come up with alternative and operational cost-efficient designs to reduce energy consumption, reduce carbon emissions and improve the overall operational efficiencies of new data centre projects.

“A data centre that is built around these core principles is not only modern in today’s context, but future-proof by design. And, like smart property developers, data centre owners have begun to realise that building for sustainability not only makes good operational business sense, but it also aligns with responsible corporate citizenship and meeting environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices. These are significant value adds to the end-user, which also contributes to the marketability of the data centre as what benefits the end-user also benefits the data centre owner,” concludes Hodgkinson.

www.wsp.com

Mauritius Commercial Bank to adopt MITECH’s TRAC Collateral Management system in the cloud

The Mauritius Commercial Bank Ltd (MCB) is adopting MITECH’s system TRAC (Trade Risk Active Control) to support a continuous and significant growth in its Commodity Trade Finance (CTF) business.

TRAC is a Trade Risk and Collateral Management system supporting Structured Trade Commodity Finance. The TRAC solution handles not only Transactional Commodity Finance but Borrowing Base structures as well.

The TRAC software will be implemented on a Cloud infrastructure, with the aim of going-live with the system before the end of the year.

Michael Cohen Dumani, MITECH’s CEO commented that “this contract is a major milestone for MITECH as we are expanding our geographical footprint to support Africa’s intense Trade Finance growth as well as implementing TRAC seamlessly on a Cloud setup” adding that “MITECH is proud to welcome yet another prestigious reference in its community of users”.

Rajeshwar Pertab, Head of Middle-Office, MCB stated: “We are delighted to be partnering with MITECH and further bolster risk and collateral management within our Commodity Trade Finance business. MITECH’s expertise and TRAC’s extensive functionalities convinced us to adopt the solution and streamline information flow between our customers, front-office and middle-Office teams”.

www.mcb.mu

www.mitsa.ch

[Column] Pedro Guerreiro: Cloud as a tool to create certainty

The speed with which Africa’s business sector has changed over the past year has been nothing short of astonishing.

Business leaders across the continent have had their hands full, from enabling remote work on a previously unprecedented scale to adapting to disruptions in the global supply chain, enabling e-learning for millions of youth – not to mention ensuring business continuity in the midst of a once-in-a-generation crisis.

Some changes in behaviour – such as the growing adoption of online shopping, telemedicine and digital channels for engaging with service providers – are likely to outlive the pandemic. Other behaviours – such as in-person teaching and working from the office at least some of the time – are likely to return once it’s safe.

Organisations need the flexibility to adapt to these multi-faceted changes while also improving the accuracy of the decisions they make regarding which route to take.

Speed or certainty?

McKinsey believes speed has been a fundamental aspect of the pandemic and will continue to play a leading role in guiding how businesses should adapt to ongoing uncertainty. The argument is that, by prioritising speed, organisations could make rapid decisions, act on emerging opportunities more quickly, and so improve their chances at overcoming the immense challenges created by the twin forces of digital disruption and the global pandemic.

Speed is certainly important, but there is no competitive advantage in making poor decisions quickly. The prevailing disruption and continued volatility requires that business leaders make decisions with certainty.

To make good decisions, business leaders need accurate sources of data, and the tools to turn that data into insights that can guide decision-making in real time. The modern business environment is simply too complex and volatile to rely entirely on so-called intuitive decision-making. Good quality, accurate and complete data integrated to an intelligent suite of business applications gives decision-makers greater scope for decisions that shift the needle of the business.

For example, responding well to changing customer demands is nearly impossible without knowing what those demands are. Having access to customer experience management tools that can track customer expectations in real time and guide how the business responds to those expectations removes much of the trial and error of manual decision-making. Integrating the customer experience management tool with an automation layer further increases both the speed and accuracy of that response.

Hybrid work models raise the stakes

The impact of the pandemic means most organisations are operating on a fragmented basis. Teams are working from home, making in-person methods of employee engagement and performance management almost totally obsolete, at least for the moment.

Without new employee engagement tools that can effectively mobilise and support teams around common business objectives, organisations could see falling productivity and negative effects on aspects such as product development or customer experience.

New management tools can provide measurable insights into the employee experience, which can assist managers and leaders with making better decisions over the types of support they need to provide to their teams.

Advances in data and analytics also bring data-driven insights into the boardroom, with technology solutions that connect the top floor with the shop floor to give C-level executives granular insight into the total performance of the business.

To harness data and technology for greater certainty in decision-making, organisations need to put certain building blocks in place.

Tools to create certainty in decision-making

In order to achieve a single accurate view over the organisation and empower decision-makers with actionable insights, organisations need to build intelligent enterprise capabilities.

In simple terms, this means using the latest technologies to turn insight into action across every aspect of the business, in real time. Integrated business applications – such as enterprise resource planning and human capital management solutions – powered by next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence help transform end-to-end business processes.

Experience management solutions give insight to the sentiment of customers, partners and employees, while business process intelligence and automation enable organisations to immediately act on insights and opportunities.

At the foundation of the intelligent enterprise is cloud, which gives organisations the ability to simplify and scale their systems landscape without sacrificing performance.

Cloud empowers businesses with the certainty of a quicker time-to-value, without the upfront capital outlays required of on-premise deployments.

With cloud-enabled intelligent enterprise capabilities, organisations can achieve the speed needed to stay ahead of competitors and other disruptors while maintaining the certainty of measured, data-driven decision-making.

And with new tools such as RISE with SAP, organisations can start building intelligent enterprise capabilities no matter what stage of their digital transformation journeys they find themselves.

Pedro Guerreiro is the Managing Director Central Africa at SAP Africa

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Global spending on cloud Services surpasses $300 billion, report

Cloud Services have become an integral part of business operations for many large companies and in 2020 the industry earned an estimated revenue of over $300 billion globally.

According to data presented by TradingPlatforms.com, global public IT cloud services market revenue for 2020 was at $312.4B – a 34% Increase from 2019.

In 2016, global spending on public IT cloud services was just under $100B. In 2021 that figure has ballooned to a healthy $312.4B after experiencing a 34% increase from 2019’s $233.4B revenue. In the 4 year period from 2016-2020 revenue from spending on cloud services grew at an impressive compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36.31%.

Of the three main types of cloud services, Software as a Service (SaaS) still accounts for the largest share of total revenue with a 63% share. In 2020 SaaS revenue amounted to $197.6B which is a 33% increase from 2019’s $148.5. S From 2016-2020 SaaS revenue grew at a CAGR of 34.1%

Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) held the second-largest share of the revenue accounting for 21.5% of total revenue. IaaS experienced the largest growth among the three main types of cloud services with a 37% increase in revenue from $49B in 2019 to $67.2B in 2020. From 2016-2020 IaaS had a staggering CAGR of almost 40%.

Platform as a Service (PaaS) revenue accounts for just 15% of total revenue and experienced a 32.6% increase from $35.9B in 2019 to $47.6B in 2020. PaaS experienced a CAGR of 42.42% from 2016-2020, the highest out of the three main types of cloud services despite experiencing the lowest YoY growth.

Rex Pascual, editor at Trading Platforms, commented: “The cloud services industry was already gathering strong momentum prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Lockdowns across the world resulted in many businesses rapidly shifting to cloud-based services giving the industry its highest YoY growth to date. Expect the industry to sustain this growth as many more businesses see the value in the adaptability of cloud services even in a post-pandemic world.”

www.tradingplatforms.com

[Column] Setumo Mohapi: Finding the right cloud strategy for your business

2021 will be the year defined by business’ attempt to recover, build better resilience and restructure their operations following a tumultuous year of change as a result of the global pandemic.

The ability to adapt to the new world of work and the additional challenges that now lie ahead in 2021 will be the defining factor for those who will maintain business success – and those who won’t.

Although companies had previously set long term goals for their digital transformation, the pandemic has accelerated the adoption of digital solutions to ensure business continuity and sustainability.

Hybrid cloud has provided enterprises with a trusted and capable foundation to adapt to changing market needs.

In a hybrid cloud landscape, there are five key reasons that amplify the case for adoption:

Hybrid cloud brings agility, business resilience and continuity to the fore

Agility has always been a crucial outcome for most if not all enterprises. The ability to innovate and respond to changing market conditions is vital. Yet the speed, scale, and intensity of the impacts of Covid-19 has exposed certain deficiencies that may not have been considered. In our experience, it is often the case that the infrastructure and services requirements for transformation of the end-to-end network are understated when planning deployments of cloud solutions. The hybrid network that supports hybrid cloud deployments and services must not be the single point of weakness for organisations that require the full-stack capabilities to support agile, yet resilient businesses. The hybrid network must be programmable, flexible and allow for methods of consumption and billing that are standard in the cloud world. 

Hybrid cloud brings security and compliance complexities

As distributed workloads become the standard, and the security attack surface expands and potentially becomes as dynamic as the dynamic hybrid intelligent infrastructurte in the network and across the hybrid cloud environment, the overall response to the new security challenges must be equally up to the task. From conceptualisation and design of IT interventions, integration of OEM solutions, and finally, full-stack operations within the enterprise, organisations have to adopt the mantra  of secure by design, covering cloud, infrastructure, access, application and data security enabling business continuity seamlessly.  In this respect, embedded security moves from being a cost centre to being the critical transformation enabler under shared organisational responsibility.

Hybrid cloud is a driver for cost efficiency                                    

A more efficient total cost of IT operations is the biggest driver of hybrid cloud adoption, and it’s easy to see why. The shift to a distributed workforce model has meant people require access to both data and applications in new, different, and often complex ways – and organisations want to enable that in not only a cost-efficient manner but in a high-performance environment too. SD-WAN has emerged as a more cost-effective way of connecting to the cloud but it’s critical to note that optimising traffic flows across multiple connectivity options requires proper architecture and ongoing analysis and management.

Hybrid cloud simplifies internal operations through automation

It is complex to implement, but hybrid cloud ultimately simplifies internal operations through automation and streamlines the management of IT resources. This increases overall efficiency by reducing the time spent by IT teams on managing supporting infrastructures. To take advantage of hybrid cloud, understanding exactly what works in any given scenario, as well as how and where it can fulfil the needs of a particular business model is crucial. Mixing public and private cloud leverages the best of both worlds, each for different reasons and of course, different workload priorities.

Hybrid cloud offers business and IT leaders the chance to meet changing business demands head- on. While continuity and business resilience are fundamental, improving customer experiences and growing revenues still features highly on the list of business objectives.

You don’t have to go it alone

The role of partners also brings to light not only how much organisations rely on their partners’ skills and expertise, but how they drive greater efficiencies through the provision of integrated and flexible intelligent platforms and automation, led by cloud solutions. With more and more enterprises shifting a majority of their IT infrastructure to various third parties, customers can now fully benefit from the guidance and strategic counsel offered by vendors that are specialising across the OEM ecosystem.

“We believe that no two clouds are the same, and as such that no two implementations or approaches should be identical. Each cloud offering must be developed to serve a specific need and to answer a specific question.”

Setumo Mohapi is the Chief Go-to-Market Officer for Dimension Data 

[Column] Anthony Njoroge: The importance of flash storage for the cloud

As cynicism about the benefits of the cloud give way to rapidly embracing digital transformation, companies are finding themselves in a position where they must optimise their infrastructure.

While the modern cloud environment delivers improved performance and more responsive use of resources, it must be configured properly with the relevant hardware in place. This is where flash storage becomes an enabler to help unlock the business benefits arising from effective digital transformation.

There is no arguing about the speed advantage flash provides over more traditional storage options. But perhaps, more importantly, it results in improved productivity and responsiveness within the organisation. Because of the higher input/output operations per second of flash, it can deliver faster response times for those IT services that support the business. It makes it possible for insights to be extracted in real-time from the data warehouse further aiding the decision-making process.

The resultant enhancements in efficiencies that come from flash storage means companies will use fewer CPU cores and cloud cycles. Given how most cloud providers work on a pay-per-use model, there will be a significant cost savings that can be reinvested in other parts of the business.

According to the rule of thumb, flash storage can deliver approximately 10 times the performance of traditional storage arrays with just one tenth of the power consumption. It is therefore not difficult to understand why companies are increasingly adopting flash in their cloud architecture.

Storage flexibility

IT departments have also been exploring using NVMe to reduce response time and storage latency. For its part, NetApp was the first enterprise storage vendor to deliver NVMe/FC on all midrange and high-end all-flash A-series storage. This innovation allows customers using a 32Gb fibre channel to immediately see latencies drop to under half a millisecond.

All-flash arrays also enable storage tiering capabilities. After all, one of the ways to reduce cloud costs is to tier infrequently used data to less-expensive storage formats. However, the public cloud providers only offer data tiering between classes of their object storage offerings. This means that as storage requirements become more dynamic, companies require options in matching the fastest storage with the most critical applications.

By moving this less critical data to more affordable alternatives using a cloud-agnostic solution, such as the NetApp AFF, companies can tier data more strategically to meet both cost and access requirements.

Modernisation

Combining flash performance and application integration, while leveraging the power of the hybrid cloud, organisations can extend the capabilities of their data centres. These combine to make up part of the data fabric that help users unless the full potential of the data at their disposal.

Consider how consistent and integrated data management services and applications facilitate data visibility and insights, data access and control, and data protection and security. Together, these technologies will accelerate digital transformation and allow the business to address its highest imperatives.

All-flash storage has become a vital component in the cloud migration journey. It is something that companies must consider if they are to be effective in their digital transitions and leverage the agility that come from the high performance computing capabilities delivered through the cloud.

Anthony Njoroge is the Product Manager for NetApp at Westcon-Comstor Sub-Saharan Africa