Blue Prism accelerates intelligent automation for cloud users on Microsoft Azure

Blue Prism has announced a new offering of Blue Prism intelligent automation software on Microsoft’s AppSource and Azure Marketplaces.

The move enhances access for both Blue Prism and Microsoft customers, and underwrites Blue Prism’s position as the intelligent automation and robotic process automation (RPA) leader in the cloud.

Blue Prism customers already have access to a scalable, enterprise-ready platform that combines robotic automation and smart workflows with technologies like machine learning, advanced analytics, natural language processing, process mining, and cognitive capabilities and this offering allows Blue Prism robots greater access to Microsoft Azure Apps too, with access to over 175 accelerators for Microsoft products within Blue Prism’s Digital Exchange.

The new Bring Your Own License (BYOL) offering for Azure Marketplace and AppSource is pre-loaded with select Azure Cognitive Services – including Azure Text Analytics, Azure Form Recognizer and Azure Computer Vision – all of which customers can license directly through Microsoft. This combines with Blue Prism Digital Exchange where users can access more than 175 accelerators for Microsoft products to further enhance their enterprise automations.

“This combination of Blue Prism and Azure Cognitive Services gives our customers a greater choice with AI-enabled, self-service experience that is provisioned via Microsoft Azure,” says Chief Partner Strategy Officer at Blue Prism, Linda Dotts. “Advanced intelligent automation in the cloud provides multiple advantages for our customers, most notably the ability to instantly scale to meet enterprise demands.”

Blue Prism accelerators now exists for Microsoft Power Platform, Microsoft’s Power Automate gallery, Microsoft’s Healthcare Cloud; with Form Recognizer, Text Analytics and Azure Computer Vision.

It also adds to the company’s growing portfolio of cloud offerings, which include its Blue Prism Cloud SaaS platform, and expands a cloud strategy that not only centres on making intelligent automation more accessible, but that also aligns with customer desires for interoperability, expanded automation solutions, consumable and extensible artificial intelligence, and a seamless intelligent automation journey.

“Customers can embrace the transformative potential of intelligent automation and drive impactful change within their organisations, and this is now fully supported by Microsoft,” says CEO and Executive Chairman of Blue Prism, Jason Kingdon, “We are offering customers more flexible cloud deployment options delivering on Blue Prism’s vision of giving customers end-to-end automation solutions that cover the broadest range of IT environments, including on-premises, hybrid, public cloud, and SaaS.

www.blueprism.com

azure.microsoft.com

Shift to remote work is accelerating digital adoption, Cisco Duo Security Report

A new report published from Duo Security at Cisco, the multi-factor authentication (MFA) and secure access provider, reveals the unprecedented IT change organizations underwent this year amid a massive shift to remote work, accelerating adoption of cloud technology.

The security implications of this transition will reverberate for years to come, as the hybrid workplace demands the workforce to be secure, connected and productive from anywhere.

The 2020 Duo Trusted Access Report details how organizations, with a mandate to rapidly transition their entire workforce to remote, turned to remote access technologies such as virtual private networks (VPN) and remote desktop protocol (RDP), among numerous other efforts.

As a result, authentication activity to these technologies swelled 60%, helping propel Duo’s monthly authentications from 600 million to 900 million per month. A complementary Cisco survey recently found that 96% of organizations made cybersecurity policy changes during the pandemic, with more than half implementing MFA.

Cloud adoption also accelerated. Daily authentications to cloud applications surged 40% during the first few months of the pandemic, the bulk of which came from enterprise and mid-sized organizations looking to ensure secure access to various cloud services.

As organizations scrambled to acquire the requisite equipment to support remote work, employees relied on personal or unmanaged devices in the interim. Consequently, blocked access attempts due to out-of-date devices skyrocketed 90% in March. That figure fell precipitously in April, indicating healthier devices and decreased risk of breach due to malware.

“As the pandemic began, the priority for many organizations was keeping the lights on and accepting risk in order to accomplish this end,” said Dave Lewis, Global Advisory CISO, Duo Security at Cisco. “Attention has now turned towards lessening risk by implementing a more mature and modern security approach that accounts for a traditional corporate perimeter that has been completely upended.”

Report findings also include:

So Long, SMS – The prevalence of SIM-swapping attacks has driven organizations to strengthen their authentication schemes. Year-over-year, the percentage of organizations that enforce a policy to disallow SMS authentication nearly doubled from 8.7% to 16.1%.

Biometrics Booming – Biometrics are nearly ubiquitous across enterprise users, paving the way for a passwordless future. Eighty percent of mobile devices used for work have biometrics configured, up 12% the past five years.

Cloud Apps on Pace to Pass On-Premises Apps – Use of cloud apps are on pace to surpass use of on-premises apps by next year, accelerated by the shift to remote work. Cloud applications make up 13.2% of total Duo authentications, a 5.4% increase year-over-year, while on-premises applications encompass 18.5% of total authentications, down 1.5% since last year.

Apple Devices 3.5 times More Likely to Update Quickly vs. Android – Ecosystem differences have security consequences. On June 1, Apple iOS and Android both issued software updates to patch critical vulnerabilities in their respective operating systems. iOS devices were 3.5 times more likely to be updated within 30 days of a security update or patch, compared to Android.

Windows 7 Lingers in Healthcare Despite Security Risks – More than 30% of Windows devices in healthcare organizations still run Windows 7, despite end-of-life status, compared with 10% of organizations across Duo’s customer base. Healthcare providers are often unable to update deprecated operating systems due to compliance requirements and restrictive terms and conditions of third-party software vendors.

Windows Devices, Chrome Browser Dominate Business IT – Windows continues its dominance in the enterprise, accounting for 59% of devices used to access protected applications, followed by Mac OS X at 23%. Overall, mobile devices account for 15% of corporate access (iOS: 11.4%, Android: 3.7%). On the browser side, Chrome is king with 44% of total browser authentications, resulting in stronger security hygiene overall for organizations.

UK and EU Trail US in Securing Cloud – United Kingdom and European Union-based organizations trail US-based enterprises in user authentications to cloud applications, signalling less cloud use overall or a larger share of applications not protected by MFA.

The full report can be accessed here

www.duo.com

Telekom Networks Malawi selects Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack to modernize its telecommunication infrastructure

Canonical, the publisher of Ubuntu, has announced that its Charmed OpenStack, an open source private cloud solution that allows businesses to control large pools of computer, storage and networking in a datacentre, has been selected by Telekom Networks Malawi Plc (TNM), to modernise and virtualise its entire telecommunications infrastructure.

 TNM is Malawi’s telecoms provider and aims to create faster time to market across its product range through the move.

TNM has been a pioneer of mobile and data solutions in Malawi, having been the first mobile operator to launch 4G broadband services, while its network is the fastest in the country, covering all cities and major towns. Charmed Openstack will enable TNM to separate network hardware and software, turning legacy components into software based network services . This means they can be updated quicker with continuous integration and development, while ensuring the network is robust and scalable.

The move towards Charmed OpenStack has been driven by TNM’s existing use and advocacy of open source software. The deployment, including two private clouds, will happen immediately and give TNM access to virtual network functions (VNFs), which will open up access to a wide range of network services to build on top of the initial deployment.

Adopting a cloud-based architecture with Charmed OpenStack will accelerate TNM’s ability to develop new technologies and services while benefiting from reduced CAPEX investment. TNM will also adopt Canonical’s Managed OpenStack service, which allows TNM to have a fully managed private cloud on its own servers. The managed service allows TNM to take advantage of Canonical’s open source expertise and allows them to focus on adding business value elsewhere.

Michiel Buitelaar, Chief Executive Officer at TNM, said: “This is a big step in an ongoing programme for us to evolve our infrastructure and deliver the best possible solutions for customers. Utilising Canonical’s expertise via OpenStack was an obvious choice, and by increasing our open source footprint we now have access to a wider range of services, optimising how we will deliver future technologies.”

Nicholas Dimotakis, VP of Field Engineering, Datacentre at Canonical, said: “TNM is joining a wave of telco companies moving to OpenStack, to modernise their infrastructure to software based network services, and it’s fantastic for us to be part of this migration. TNM understands what can be delivered through an open infrastructure and is now able to take advantage of open source technology more broadly, collaborating with the community to improve its offering.”

TNM’s decision represents a bigger trend within the telecoms industry, while in Africa specifically, companies are turning to OpenStack to modernise their network and future proof for the adoption of new technologies such as 5G. Through a long-term investment in the technology, TNM will now have more agility to innovate at scale and consistently meet customer demands.

TNM’s cloud will be built on Canonical’s Charmed OpenStack, and utilise Canonical’s open source tools to automate the deployment and operations of their infrastructure. TNM has adopted Juju – Operator Lifecycle Manager to manage and operate a set of software applications for a model-driven architecture to onboard virtual network functions (VNFs) applications, while MAAS is used as the cloud-provisioning tool. The company will also benefit from Canonical’s Managed OpenStack offering for the ongoing maintenance and support of operations.

www.canonical.com

www.tnm.co.mw

Global cloud-based contact center market poised to reach $36 million by 2025, report

The global cloud-based contact center market size is expected to grow at an annual compounded growth rate of 25.8 per cent to reach $36.1 billion by 2025 from $11.5 billion in 2020 according to the latest report by Research and Markets.

Digital business transformation has entered a more challenging and urgency-driven phase due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Global giants provide customers with cost-effective and productive digital solutions as every industry is economically hard-hit by the pandemic.

The sudden shutdowns of organizations and institutions increased the demand for cloud solutions and other online services. The cloud-based contact center market in industries such as IT and ITeS, telecommunications, BFSI, and media and entertainment, has impacted positively due to the work from the home initiative.

Cloud-based contact centers are independent of the location they are situated, enabling agents, supervisors, and administrators to access them from anywhere through a phone or by an internet connection. Enterprises across the globe are recovering gradually and are expected to get back on gradually by mid of 2021.

The omnichannel routing solutions comprise digital channels, Interactive Voice Response (IVR), ACD, dialer, and virtual agent. COmnichannel solutions empower to designates certain calls to different agents and locations depending on a variety of factors.

 Focusing on call routing enables organizations to manage thousands of calls continuously without compromising with customer satisfaction. Moreover, organizations could easily manage spikes in call volume by intelligently distributing calls among multiple contact centers, including remote centers and home-based agents, with the unique omnichannel technology.

The cloud-based contact center market has been segmented based on organization size into Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and large enterprises. The major benefit large enterprises receive with the implementation of cloud transformation is that the cloud services are maintained and supported by the vendors themselves.

Moreover, firms could thereby engage their employees in more strategic business tasks. The demand for flexible, scalable, and convenient solutions for large enterprises pushes service providers to come up with new technologies and offer innovative solutions. Hence, the cloud-based contact center market for large enterprises is expected to grow at a significant rate.

The BFSI industry is adopting cloud services as it helps save operational costs and offers high business continuity. Banks’ customer information is stored across a variety of systems. Having this information readily available for customer service channels is crucial to meet stated objectives and provide seamless customer experiences.

With the help of cloud-based solutions, contact center agents can enhance customer experiences through increased speed and better quality of call resolution. Moreover, a cloud-based contact center ensures business continuity by focusing on issues such as manageability, scalability, and higher efficiency.

North America is estimated to capture the largest market share in 2020, and the trend is expected to continue during the forecast period. Growth in the adoption of cloud-based services in SMEs and large enterprises is expected to drive revenue growth in this region.

On the other hand, the cloud-based contact center market in the Asia Pacific (APAC) is expected to witness exponential growth and is projected to be one of the fastest-growing regions in the global cloud-based contact center market. This is attributed to the large-scale adoption of cost-effective cloud-based solutions in these regions.

www.researchandmarkets.com

Cloud4C and SNP Ink global deal on simplified digital transformation

Cloud4C Services Pte. Ltd, a global cloud managed services provider based in Singapore, has signed a global Silver Partnership agreement with the SNP Group, a player in data transformation, to simplify the complex digital transformation of data and processes.

This alliance will offer attractive packages for the accelerated adoption of SAP® S/4HANA in the cloud bundled with one-stop shop end-to-end software solutions to reduce enterprises’ total cost of ownership (TCO) and capital expenditure (CAPEX).

The partnership brings the dual advantage of Cloud4C’s AIOPs and DevOps-driven Managed Services expertise in SAP S/4HANA along with SNP’s BLUEFIELD™ approach powered by CrystalBridge® automation software.

With this, enterprises can launch multiple projects and migrate selective data in one go, on any cloud environment – public, private or hybrid. Cloud4C brings in global best practices in comprehensive cloud readiness assessment, security and regulatory compliance adherence, and cost optimization. The minimum duration of the contract is until the end of 2023.

Michael Eberhardt, Chief Operating Officer (COO) at SNP, commented, “Cloud-based modernization of SAP environments is a cornerstone of digital transformation, forming the basis for economic success on an unprecedented, accelerated path of business agility, continuity and innovation. A move to the cloud is increasingly becoming an integral consideration for strategic business- and technology-critical scenarios like SAP S/4HANA, mergers, acquisitions, carve-outs and infrastructure costs. We are pleased to partner with Cloud4C, taking our core capability in SAP landscape transformations to a new level globally. With our joint proposition, enterprises can rely on our selective data and process harmonization ability to minimize their cloud data footprint, thus delivering customer value through high-performance software for maximum project speed, accuracy and efficiency with minimal disruption and risk.”

Sridhar Pinnapureddy, Founder and CEO, Cloud4C, said “We are delighted to partner with SNP as their cloud evolution partner providing end to end cloud managed services for enterprises. Our customers will now have a viable alternative to transform their most complex SAP deployments into next-generation integrated environments with Cloud4C migration factory framework, SNP’s advanced software and global talent pool. Together, we will be able to help our customers embark on a cloud transformation journey through SAP Cloud Managed services, SAP S/4HANA transformation, Application Management Services (AMS) with reduced TCO powered by AIOps, Single interface for Platform Management.” He further added, “With our Cloud value assessment including TCO analysis, compliance/regulatory and security assessment, special attention to the availability of key services, enterprises will be able to achieve their business/technology objectives through our innovative cost models and gain Total Cloud Control.”

www.cloud4c.com

www.snpgroup.com

[South Africa] Stanlib enables remote working on Nutanix infrastructure foundation

Nutanix, a company involved in enterprise cloud computing, has announced  that South African financial services company, Stanlib, is working with the company to secure additional nodes that enable the organisation to provide virtual desktops to employees that have been required to work from home during the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in the country.

South Africa saw hard and fast Level Five lockdown restrictions being implemented in late March 2020, leading to all but essential service businesses having to close through to the end of April. However, being in the financial services sector required STANLIB to maintain trading conditions while prioritising the safety of its employees, resulting in the business enabling a host of employees to work from home. With little to no warning of the government’s intentions, STANLIB had to quickly find a practical solution that would support this move and allow employees access to their applications securely.

“Fortunately, having just completed a significant Nutanix roll out, which has seen 95% of STANLIB’s production environment being run on the Nutanix platform. We did not have to reinvent the wheel but rather identify how best to introduce new nodes to expand on our current capability. Ease of use and scalability were key considerations. Additionally, the ability to run Citrix as securely as possible given the governance requirements around data management had to be ensured throughout the process,” said Dipesh Nagar at STANLIB.

With Citrix being a group standard across STANLIB, the Nutanix environment had to enable users to have millisecond access to their applications. The guaranteed performance was a business priority. One of the advantages of the Nutanix infrastructure is that STANLIB can expand on its existing enterprise cloud environment, which it uses for crucial business applications to deliver these to its work from home users. The scaling out of STANLIB’s existing private Nutanix cloud was a straightforward process, didn’t require a significant investment of resources on new equipment, and it repurposed the hardware it already had in place for Citrix Hosted Shared Desktops and a remote work offering.

Subsequently, STANLIB has grown its 20 node Nutanix environment to now encompass 26 nodes still running Acropolis Ultimate Edition including Prism Central while now also having Citrix solutions in place. The advantages of being able to access VDI infrastructure are significant. Not only does this result in a simplified IT environment, but it also increases security that is mission-critical for STANLIB. Employees can remain productive wherever they are and can still access essential information, products, and services from the datacentre just as if they were sitting in the office.

“Nutanix has positioned us strongly to evolve as the world changes and to be able to meet any changes in an agile manner. This enables STANLIB to deliver high-quality customer service irrespective of what is happening in terms of the lockdown. While it is difficult to predict what the future work environment will look like once we have moved past the COVID-19 pandemic, using Nutanix has given STANLIB the peace of mind we need that we can reliably and securely meet any requirement. The scalability of the Nutanix Enterprise Cloud Platform makes future growth virtually limitless, and we can plan for any scenario while still delivering the business continuity and disaster recovery aspects so essential for the financial services market,” added Nagar.

“As a longstanding customer and early adopter of Nutanix, STANLIB has always set the bar in embracing change and being able to adapt their systems to the needs of the business,” stated Paul Ruinaard, Regional Sales Director at Nutanix Sub-Saharan Africa. “The speed of completion and the agility with which it was done stands as a testament to the importance STANLIB place on IT functioning as a business enabler. They are one of only a few financial services companies that were able to effect this change as quickly as they did and as a result, ensure business continuity throughout the lockdown.”

Considering how access to sensitive data has become a target for increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks, being able to leverage Citrix in a high available Nutanix environment enables STANLIB to provide the right level of access based on each employee’s location, device, and several other factors. Today, irrespective of whether a remote worker accesses the STANLIB environment from a desktop, laptop or tablet, Nutanix and Citrix deliver the response times required to remain as productive as possible with no impact on the employee experience.

www.nutanix.com

www.stanlib.com

Claris expands FileMaker Cloud to EMEA markets

Claris International Inc., an Apple subsidiary and pioneering company in low-code, has announced the official launch of FileMaker Cloud to EMEA markets.

FileMaker Cloud gives EMEA businesses all of the power of the cloud – sharing, rapid deployment, scalability – without compromising on performance or losing connection to the real world of devices, sensors, even offline apps.

The result is a future-proof solution that empowers businesses to rapidly create and share intelligent apps with their teams, and integrate them with other popular apps and web services.

“For so many businesses, the global pandemic changed every aspect of their business overnight, which led to a massive boom in both low-code adoption and remote work technologies,” said Brad Freitag, CEO of Claris. “In many ways, Claris was built for this moment. Our commitment to low-code without limits – quickly deploying intelligent apps that both solve and evolve – means the solutions our customers build to deal with today’s changes can serve as their IT backbone going forward. We’re thrilled to finally bring FileMaker Cloud to EMEA as we continue to power the workplace of tomorrow through limitless and scalable low-code solutions.”

Designed to augment its widely adopted Claris Platform, FileMaker Cloud offers localised infrastructure to assist businesses with implementing General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and German Bundesdatenschutzgesetz (BDSG) compliance, while also providing a scalable, agile, and adaptable solution to drive IT impact in EMEA.

The FileMaker Cloud solution also brings emerging technologies within reach, ready to leverage artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), digital assistants, Internet of Things, augmented and virtual reality, and whatever comes next.

FileMaker Cloud offers the following capabilities:

Agility and speed: Ability to rapidly deploy within an organisation without software or hardware. Start creating and sharing custom apps 4x faster.

Streamlined management: Easily manage users and groups in one secure place, including full tracking, and visibility.

Privacy, security and support: Provides end-to-end encryption, multi-factor authentication, and dedicated 24/7 support and monitoring by expert teams to ensure premium security and performance.

Hassle-free infrastructure: Access to fully configured hardware and installed software, as well as automated server maintenance.

Future-proof scalability: Ability to rapidly scale across departments and entire businesses for fast-paced growth.

Affordable, set prices: Yearly subscription fee of €41 EUR per month, available for purchase in local currency.

Certificates: Built-in SSL certificate included with the service.

Local language support: Access to multiple languages, including French, Italian, German, and Spanish.

www.claris.com

Pan-African cloud based digital service provider inq. expands into Nigeria

inq. has officially launched in Nigeria, bringing to fruition the dream of building a pan African network across African cities to reimagine a better future through digital solutions.

Headquartered in Mauritius, inq. (formerly Synergy Communications) has extended its reach via the 100 per cent acquisition of Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire with a further planned acquisition in Cameroon pending regulatory approvals. This landmark transaction grows inq.’s regional footprint as a leading enterprise solutions provider to 12 cities in 7 countries across Africa including its existing operations in Botswana, Malawi and South Africa with an additional investment in Mozambique.

Under the inq. banner the company will embark on the next phase of building a unified Pan-African cloud and digital service provider, bringing to market a very relevant suite of next generation technology solutions in the fields of Edge AI, SD-WAN/NFV and Cloud.

Currently operating in 12 African cities: Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt, Kano, Gaborone, Lusaka, Ndola, Blantyre, Lilongwe, Mzuzu, Abidjan and Johannesburg. The inq. team prides itself on global best practice methodologies customized to local customs in each of the 16 cities, covering different sectors including banking, oil & gas, FMCG, mining, health, real estate, IT, public sector and logistics.

 “Covid-19 has accelerated digital transformation, and inq. is perfectly positioned to deliver intelligent connectivity through seamless delivery of cloud and digital services and  technologies to our clients. We are about simpler, seamless solutions”, said Valentine Chime MD, inq. Nigeria.

www.inq.inc

[[$links]]

[Column] Marius Burger: What does a cloud-connected Africa look like?

With a region as large and as vast as Africa, it is difficult to imagine a fully connected continent where every individual across all demographics, and every business across all sectors can harness the power of cloud computing.

Yet as technology continues to drastically change how we conduct our lives and connect with the world around us, this notion of a cloud-connected Africa becomes far more plausible and realistic.

In fact, many of us are already utilising cloud-enabled technologies on a daily basis. From cloud-based productivity apps to collaboration services like Microsoft Teams, the cloud is seamlessly integrating into our everyday lives. A future where a healthy cloud ecosystem is supported by integrated and innovative technologies is much closer than we think.

Enabling business continuity and growth

Given the current remote working environment, the value of cloud computing for local organisations can’t be emphasised enough. Apart from its geo-agnostic nature, the cloud is the best fit for today’s business landscape because of its scalability, flexibility and consumption-based charging model.

While being able to work from anywhere is key, this can be achieved through other, non-cloud-based technologies. However, the ability to rapidly implement and adapt in the cloud is what makes cloud-based solutions so valuable in our current business state. By driving efficiency and ensuring that employees are productive while working from home, cloud automation focuses workloads into the correct resource pools.

In turn, cloud services promote more streamlined operating systems and provide access to more markets and a wider range of service providers, helping companies reduce unnecessary costs and enable cost-effectiveness in the long run. 

Connecting data centres to customers 

As the demand for digital services continues to increase, the need for more processing power also grows, with more data centres setting up shop in our backyard. And, as more hyper-scalers position themselves in South Africa and throughout the continent, our technology industry is forced to find new solutions that will satisfy this hunger for the cloud. More sophisticated network architecture is required so that ISPs can find smarter ways to manage and orchestrate traffic between data centres and end-users.

Yet without reliable connectivity, no one can reach any cloud solutions, so there is also a responsibility on all ISPs to drive this penetration through Africa safely. Innovative products that are centred around cloud traffic are needed.

Thinking ahead

A fully connected Africa will, therefore, have intelligent networks, built on a foundation of stable and reliable facilities. In other words, the networking equivalent of a park-and-ride system with satellite navigation, ensuring traffic flow in peak hours and drivers finding the best routes to their destinations.

Reaching this desired connected state means a few critical things for our continent. Firstly, our connectivity will be on par with that of more developed countries. Secondly, it’ll enable any business to utilise the cloud and tap into the benefits cloud computing unlocks, essentially allowing companies of all sizes in all sectors to do business easier. Thirdly, cloud capabilities will be able to be deployed closer to end-users, resulting in an increased uptake of cloud-based services for consumers.  

Most importantly, however, a cloud-connected Africa could mean more job opportunities for parts of our population that previously couldn’t access work. And for a continent with high levels of poverty and unemployment, this is a massive win.

If governments, businesses and entrepreneurs embrace the opportunities that the cloud provides, Africa could distinguish itself by using the cloud to drive growth and add value. As we look to the future and strive to build a more connected continent, partnering with a forward-thinking cloud provider that can assist your business in planning for tomorrow, while taking full advantage of the latest cutting-edge technology, is crucial.

Marius Burger is the Chief Information Officer at SEACOM

[[$links]]

[Column] Patrick Ndegwa: The future of cloud computing: moving at the speed of business

is in the cloud.

And with services like cloud-based email, many companies are already using this innovative technology – whether they realise it or not. The conversation has changed from asking ‘what is cloud technology?’ to looking at how it can be harnessed to achieve business success.

Organisations need to be able to adapt at the same speed as this new technology and take advantage of the opportunities it presents. This will ensure business continuity and resilience in the long term. So what’s next for the cloud?

The future of cloud computing: opportunities for Africa

The Internet of Things  is set to become even more prominent, with companies able to automate and optimise more processes as connected ‘smart’ machines are used. Interconnected systems mean that business processes and actual equipment will be linked to ensure ease of access and optimisation. This has the power to significantly improve efficiency for businesses that can get it right.

This could include inventory systems that automatically order more stock when levels are low; smart machines that notify you before a part needs to be replaced; or logistics tracking that optimises routes and delivery based on orders and current traffic congestion. As we progress into this digital world of work, systems will become more interlinked and intertwined, providing opportunities for companies that are ready to take advantage.

Furthermore, the cloud enables remote working and service provision, regardless of where employees or organisations are located. This opens up business opportunities as distance from customers and clients is no longer a stumbling block.

African companies can offer their services to a wider market – and in turn use additional services – as a result of a digitally connected world. The same applies to workers; employees can search for jobs nationally and internationally, as opposed to simply searching for opportunities in their immediate area.

Business flexibility and scalability will be key to enabling growth while reducing unnecessary costs as a result of more streamlined operating systems and access to more markets and a wider range of service providers.

Ensuring the safety and security of the business

The importance of security in this new cloud-connected world cannot be stressed enough. As more data is moved to a cloud environment, businesses that don’t take security seriously become more susceptible to data breaches.

User rights need to be properly managed and the relevant software put into place to prevent cyberattacks and data leaks. In addition to this, each individual accessing a system affects the safety of the wider network, so employee training is vital. Accessing and managing data remotely will need to become a priority. The constant influx of data that is being collected and stored needs to be organised and used strategically. Regular backups are crucial in ensuring that information is safe and easily accessible should the original data be deemed at risk. This will ensure business continuity and reduce downtime.

Companies that stand to win will be those that partner with cloud providers that can help them put the right security measures in place.

Adapting to a cloud-driven world of business

Research indicates that by 2025, all of the world’s data is expected to increase by five times. This data is estimated to be worth around 123.2 billion USD. In addition to this, the mobile cloud services market will be worth an estimated $95 billion by 2024. This trend also applies to Africa.

As Internet usage in Africa grows, so does the amount of data created – as well as the value of that data. Accessing these huge amounts of data won’t be the biggest challenge – making sense of it will be. Companies that can collect, collate and analyse the sheer volume of data generated every day by their customers, employees and other stakeholders stand to gain a lot. If you aren’t organising your data and using it strategically, you will be left behind.

As we look to the future, the importance of partnering with a provider that can assist your business in meeting its operational needs to remain a top priority. A forward-thinking cloud partner can help your business plan for the future, while making the most of the latest innovative technology.

Patrick Ndegwa is Business Sales Lead for SEACOM East Africa