[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud is transforming healthcare in Africa

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that many healthcare organizations do not have the necessary agility and business continuity programs or technologies to support them during crises. It is forcing businesses to act on cloud and digital transformation strategies that they had been delaying until now.

In healthcare, cloud computing is applied to overcome two major industry challenges: increasing cost-effectiveness and building a self-sufficient health ecosystem.

Cloud computing, along with increasingly ubiquitous digital tools for collection, aggregation, and analysis of health data, according to Christopher A. LeGrand, CEO, BroadReach Group, offers substantial potential to help the African continent leapfrog many more mature systems in transforming healthcare and improving health outcomes. 

Findings from a study on Leveraging cloud computing for improved health service delivery conducted in Kisumu County in Kenya revealed that cloud computing had been adopted by 42 (53%) while Software-as-a-Service, Platform-as-a-Service and Infrastructure-as-a-Service implementations were at 100%, 0% and 5% among adopters, respectively.

‘’Overall, those who had adopted cloud computing realized a significantly higher number of benefits to health service delivery compared to those who had not’’ the study notes.

Cloud computing has enabled the development of various e-healthcare platforms. The best examples, Kevin Rombosia, a healthcare leader and geospatial epidemiologist, says in an article published on Business Daily are the development of applications that enable a patient using a smartphone to access clinic consultation, laboratory services, diagnostics, and pharmacy services from the comfort of their homes. ‘’These platforms enable the storage of patient’s medical records such as past medical histories in the cloud and can be retrieved on demand. This is critical for the continuity of clinical care.’’ He says.

The continent has one of the greatest healthcare challenges in the world. Integrating cloud technology in current health care strategies, therefore, provides new ways of healthcare in Africa. This facilitates and engages the system, the health care professionals, and the patients.

According to a recent report by market research solution Reportlinker, the revenue of the global healthcare cloud computing market is expected to reach $52.30 billion by 2026 up from $11.59 billion in 2020, growing at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 28.5 percent during the period. The main growth factors till 2026 the report says include increased adoption of Software as-a-Service (SaaS) cloud service, with a market share of 63.7% in 2020, owing to the increasing number of providers and payors migrating toward more SaaS healthcare computing services to manage the growth inpatient data.

The bottom line, the cloud is more critical than ever in helping healthcare providers respond to the pandemic and prepare for future disruptions.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa

[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

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Data centres are a growing investment opportunity in Africa

Last week, Global software giant Oracle announced that it has chosen Johannesburg as the site of its first African data centre. Joburg will be among the 14 locations across Europe, the Middle East, Asia Pacific, and Latin America that the company says it plans to open cloud regions to support strong customer demand for Oracle Cloud services.

This announcement came at a time when the demand for data centers in Africa continues to rise.  According to Gartner, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) data centre market, which includes cloud services, will see spending reach US$5.4 billion in 2022, driven by Digital Transformation initiatives across the region as well as growth in Internet penetration. In addition, industry leaders. believe that projected investment growth in data centre projects is influenced by a growing demand for higher-performance networks, increased management efficiency and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In fact, as we have highlighted in a previous column,  Africa is suited to jump to the cloud more than its peersCloud adoption—including hybrid and multi-cloud adoption—is expanding fast among both private and public sector organizations of all sizes.

BitTitan, a provider of cloud migrations and managed services automation solutions, has also noted that there is a massive migration to the cloud by organisations in the Middle East and Africa.

“We have seen a growing trend in mergers and divestments as a result of the changing business dynamics brought about by the pandemic. Our data on migration project types in Americas and Europe have shown that this leads to increased activity and the trend is only growing. This will be a regular scenario soon in the Middle East as migrations do not stop after clients have been moved to the cloud,” said Antti Ålander, Channel Manager – EMEA, BitTitan said in an article published by Intelligent CIO.

Last week, US group Vantage Data Centres also announced that it is investing more than 15 billion rand ($1 billion) in its first African campus in Johannesburg.  Vantage’s carrier‐neutral 80 megawatts-capacity facility will include 60,000 square metres of data space across three facilities in Johannesburg once fully developed, making it the largest in Africa, the company said in a statement.

Teraco Data Environments Proprietary Limited, Africa’s vendor-neutral data centre and interconnection services provider, recently also announced the completion of Phase 1 of CT2, its new hyperscale data centre in Brackenfell, Cape Town – the largest data centre in the Western Cape.

These increased investments in data centers in Africa is a clear indication that cloud adoption in the region has reached new heights.  In 2020, IT spending was hit hard by the pandemic and declined by 4.9% in the META region, according to IDC. The crisis caused by the pandemic, though, appears to have accelerated plans for digital transformation and related projects such as migration to cloud technology.

According to Knight Frank, Africa currently boasts just 140,000 sq m of data centre space, the same as Switzerland. However, rapid digitisation and the roll-out of 4G and 5G infrastructure across the continent means this is set to grow by 50% over the next five years.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

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

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: African Banks Increasingly Embracing Cloud

Financial services in Africa such as banks and insurance firms are beginning to embrace cloud as they seek to modernize their solutions. The bank of 2030, according to Deloitte, will look very different from today. Facing changing consumer expectations, emerging technologies, and alternative business models, banks need to start putting strategies in place now to help them prepare for this future.

Banking and capital markets leaders in the region are increasingly recognizing that cloud is more than a technology; it is a destination for banks and other financial services firms to store data and applications and access advanced software applications via the internet.

Last week, technology leader IBM announced that major financial institutions across Africa have selected its hybrid cloud and AI capabilities to unlock digital innovation. These banks include EcoBank, Nedbank, Attijariwafa Bank, United Bank of Africa, Co-operative Bank of Kenya, and Banco Mais.

The solutions, according to IBM, continue to help these banks continue their work to develop digital-first solutions, ultimately broadening access to financial services on the continent.

Telecommunications and network provider BT also announced a portfolio of industry-tailored solutions to help financial services firms take a controlled approach to adopting cloud.  BT Cloud Control for Financial Services helps customers’ IT teams address the challenges they face in balancing the risks and rewards of moving their applications and secure data to the cloud; it helps chart the path to growth and delivering outstanding digital experiences.

Cloud allows financial institutions to modernize their operations and truly adopt all aspects of digital transformation. It makes new product and services easier to develop and also allows banks to not heavily invest in dedicated hardware and software with a limited shelf life, nor the manpower to maintain it. Instead, financial institutions can buy into the infrastructure of a secure, dedicated cloud service provider and focus on driving more money into their business.

In 2020, a new report co-authored by Genesis Analytics (the largest economics-based consulting firm in Africa) and Orange Business Services, with the support of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, concludes that cloud computing solutions could help African banks to reduce costs significantly and provide financial services to poorer people who are currently either underserved or unbanked. The report highlights the critical role that regulators should play.

Cloud computing, the report noted, creates an opportunity for financial service providers to rethink their technology investment and significantly reduce costs by using Internet technologies to provide virtual infrastructure that is scalable and delivered as a service. ICT infrastructure and service costs are lower and utilization is higher while helping overcome any ICT skills scarcity.

Isme Oosthuizen, the associate director at BCG Platinion in a column published on Africa Business Communities back in August said banks need to pursue their own path to the cloud.

‘’Cloud adoption—including hybrid and multi-cloud adoption—is expanding fast among both private and public sector organizations of all sizes,’’ she said.

‘’Financial services is the exception to the rule. Instead of rushing to the cloud, banks, credit card and payment companies, and insurers are likely to move toward hybrid or multi-cloud models at a measured pace over several years or more, and the pathways of adoption will include banking software vendors as well as large cloud service providers.’ she added.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at  Incentro Africa.

[Column] Winston Ritson: Africa finally has its head in the Cloud – but is it private, public or hybrid?

In an age of accelerated digital migration and modernization movements, the Cloud has been touted as a veritable salvation for continued operations and increased efficiency. But is Africa keeping up with this global trend? The answer, you will find, lies somewhere in the middle.

If you look at Africa from an economic development standpoint, you would be quick to assume the continent is not geared up to take advantage of the latest trends in Cloud technology. But you would be wrong. The mere fact that Africa has experienced historical low economic growth is the reason that it is perfectly suited to jump onto the Cloud faster than her peers.

International investors are clamoring to the front of the investment line to fund a boom in the African Cloud Computing market. The proliferation of smartphones, mass adoption of business software and general economic growth prospects have seen a great demand for data centers to be built within continental borders. A young mobile population is driving end-user demand and the potential for the next Cloud boom.

Africa currently accounts for less than 1% of the global public Cloud services revenue (Xalam report) despite accounting for 5% of the world’s GDP and 17% of its population. However, its capacity has doubled in the past three years. But and there is always a but, Africa does lag as one would expect as we are still talking about a Cloud penetration rate of around 15%, but a forecasted public growth rate of between 17 and 20 CAGR (Xalam report – The Rise of the African Cloud)

What is causing the lag?

There are two main culprits for Cloud’s lack of momentum in Africa. First and foremost, piracy is still a big problem on the continent. Many businesses continue to use legacy on-prem versions of software that are pirated. Although this is true all over the world, it is especially true in Africa, where cost occasionally eclipses security or features.

In its June 2018 report, The Software Alliance reported that the overall rate of pirated software across the Middle East and Africa was 56%. Three years down the line, and I can promise you that not much has changed. It is extremely difficult to pursue and prosecute.

On the plus side, from my perspective at Liquid Intelligent Technologies, we are seeing an increasing number of formal African businesses make the move to Cloud with very little resistance and an increase in productivity. Businesses understand the reduced security risk combined with the latest features are worth the monthly subscription.

Secondly, the move to Cloud is not an easy endeavor by any means. We have seen a lot of fragmentation when it comes to business comprehension. There is a tug of war between what they can do with the Cloud versus what they are willing to do. However, leaders of organizations are starting to understand that any strategy must include technological investments.

Unfortunately, with Cloud, there has been an all or nothing mentality. Yet, the rise of data protection and privacy laws is creating lines in the sand regarding the movement of data. Many businesses that were keen to move entirely into the public Cloud are now apprehensive and have adopted a hybrid Cloud model. These developments have somewhat fragmented adoption and created hesitancy.

The rise of hybrid – the end of the road for some, a stepping stone for others

Why is it that in Africa, most new developments are broken down into a public versus private debate? With the Cloud, the two are no different. Typically, Cloud investments exist as a single architectural deployment – ​​​​ie, public or private. Public being the big Cloud service providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure, and private being an environment that is wholly controlled by a single customer, generally purpose-built for a particular business.

Yet, many have chosen the best of both worlds as a hybrid Cloud solution operates across both. Hybrid Cloud combines a private Cloud with one or more public Cloud services where the business makes use of workloads optimized for the deployment model selected. There are inherent advantages to the public Cloud, including almost infinite scalability and an unbeatable breadth of independent service vendor (ISV) offerings. The private Cloud suits low latency data regulatory requirements and is built for purpose installations. In the end, in these precarious times, hybrid Cloud services are becoming powerful as it gives businesses greater control over their private data.

Is this simply a stepping stone on the road to a full Cloud solution? I would argue, yes. For many businesses, hybrid is a step on the journey to a full Cloud solution. We are still in the development phase for Cloud in the world, let alone Africa. As more infrastructure arises in all corners of the continent and the world, businesses will find the allure of a full Cloud solution may be too tempting to pass up.

But, if you are downsizing and getting rid of corporate offices or storefronts, you then need the flexibility for the end-users to access their data through whatever application, no matter where that user is. There should be no interruption of services, especially if it is financial information like an online banking application. This means that moving all data in one go to the Cloud remains problematic.

Many organizations worldwide are struggling with harnessing the full capabilities of their Cloud environments. An  IBM report  suggests that though 90% of companies globally were “on the Cloud” by 2019, only about 20% of their workloads had moved to a Cloud environment.

The Cost Paradox of Cloud

Having said all this, the paradox of scale means that you are probably going to need your own private Cloud and data centers once you grow big enough. If you are the size of Uber or Netflix, it makes sense to eventually start building your own data centers. In 2019, various sources estimate that AWS charged Netflix US$9.6 million a month for services rendered. That’s a lot of money.

Although you can count on one hand the number of businesses in the world that require that amount of Cloud space. For everyone else, depending on your data restrictions, regulations, and ability to operate efficiently – a hybrid Cloud solution may be the end of the road and work just fine. But don’t think your opinion isn’t going to change as the tech evolves. There is always a better solution on the horizon.

Winston Ritson is the Group Head for Cloud Services at  Liquid Intelligent Technologies.

[Column] Francis Wainaina: How cloud technology could transform manufacturing in Africa

Globally, the manufacturing sector plays a significant role in driving economic growth, job creation, and lifting people out of poverty. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, global manufacturing output has been in decline and Kenyan manufacturers say they are now prioritising cost reduction, increasing revenue, retaining jobs, and improving cash flow. At the same time, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution underway, manufacturers are being pushed to embrace technological development – or risk losing business to more technologically advanced competitors.

Cloud technologies offer manufacturers a solution to this, providing speed, agility, cost savings, and innovation advantages that could accelerate the recovery of the manufacturing sector as well as increase Kenya’s global competitiveness. The African Continental Free Trade Area, Kenya-USA Free Trade Area, Kenya-UK Free Trade Area, and the European Union, under the Economic Partnership Agreements, all present enormous export opportunities for our country, but our manufacturing sector cannot fully capitalise on these global markets without undergoing significant digital transformation.

Kenya’s vision

In 2008, the Kenyan government launched Kenya Vision 2030 with a long-term national development strategy to transform Kenya into a globally competitive industrial hub. Under the Big Four Agenda, the government hopes to increase the manufacturing sector’s contribution to Kenya’s GDP to 15% by 2022. 

The Competitive Industrial Performance Index Report (2020), which benchmarks our ability to produce and export manufactured goods competitively, ranked Kenya 115th out of 152 countries.  While this places us as a leader in East Africa, Kenya’s manufacturing sector still has a long way to go – and the pandemic has not made things easier. In May 2020, a KAM-KPMG survey showed that 53% of manufacturers were operating below 50% capacity during the pandemic. Although manufacturing’s contribution to GDP decreased from 7.8% in 2018 to 7.5% in 2019, the sector also saw an increase from KSh. 690.6 billion to Ksh. 734.6 billion in value added over the same period – largely due to increased output in the manufacturing of transport equipment, chemicals, and chemical products and pharmaceuticals.

The Kenya Association of Manufacturers developed the Manufacturing Priority Agenda 2021 to accelerate the recovery of Kenya’s manufacturing sector, with enhanced digitalisation as one of the seven key agendas to “enhance productivity, induce innovation, and enhance resource efficiency”.

The future of manufacturing

In the past, the prevailing winning strategies for manufacturers were large production sites, long product life-cycles, vertical integration, and a heavy investment in costly on-premise systems. But the face of manufacturing has changed, and today’s manufacturers do not only compete by the size and scale of their operations, but also by their speed and agility. For example, many plants today are distributed across the globe and dependent on a constantly fluctuating global supply chain, which necessitates more flexible and data-driven approaches to supply chain management. 

As is the case in most other sectors, the future of manufacturing now belongs to those who can successfully adopt technologies such as machine learning and automation, big data, or IoT. Cloud systems enable these forward-facing technologies, which is why 46% of respondents in Africa’s manufacturing sector, according to a study by World Wide Worx, reported an increased spend on cloud services.

Why manufacturers are using the cloud

Efficient manufacturing is about accomplishing more with fewer resources without compromising on quality. It is also about effectively managing communication between suppliers and distributors, streamlining production schedules through real-time and insight-driven monitoring, and minimising operational costs.

Cloud technologies play directly into all of this, and while some of these capabilities are possible with on-premise systems, cloud-based systems are much faster and more cost-effective to roll out, enable easier customisation and flexibility, allow for scalability, and open the door for innovation. Manufacturers often compete in highly regulated industries where being first-to-market is crucial, and cloud computing is making it possible for them to reduce the time it takes to conduct strategic sourcing, quality audits, supply chain management, optimisation, and more accurate forecasting.

Developing scalable manufacturing intelligence across various plants can be achieved at a much lower cost and with greater accuracy using cloud systems, which can provide real-time insights into production performance using one central dashboard. Cloud-based monitoring systems also allow production processes to be fine-tuned actively and with greater accuracy, making it easier to identify bottlenecks and make configuration changes from any location.

Legacy enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that do not run in the cloud were not designed for complex compliance reporting requirements, which is becoming increasingly important in the manufacturing sector. Cloud computing is making it possible to integrate these legacy systems with the cloud and define entirely new metrics and performance indicators.

Unlocking Africa’s potential

As industries and businesses adapt to working in the digital-first world, digital transformation has become critical to success. Cloud technologies have become a pillar of the modern business world, and the manufacturing sector is certainly no exception. To accelerate the growth of Kenya’s economy through improved manufacturing capabilities, we need to follow international trends and take advantage of all the opportunities that cloud has to offer.

Francis Wainaina is a Senior Product Manager at SEACOM East Africa.

[Africa Cloud Review] Simon Ngunjiri: Cloud is accelerating digital change across different industries

Cloud technology is driving change and accelerating digital transformation across multiple industries simultaneously. According to Marilyn Moodley, the South African Country Leader for SoftwareONENot only is cloud technology itself evolving at pace in Africa, but the way organisations buy and manage software is having to adapt as well. 

In our previous Africa cloud review article, we highlighted how cloud services have certainly revolutionized the way African enterprises conduct their businesses, offering various benefits such as cost-effective access to computing power, on-demand applications, and services among others.

Recent data presented by TradingPlatforms.com, global public IT cloud services market revenue for 2020 also shows how the cloud industry earned an estimated revenue of over $300 billion globally. To be precise, the revenue was at $312.4B – a 34% Increase from 2019.

In 2016, the data shows that 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%.

The data shows how big the cloud market is. In continents like Africa for example, Hybrid cloud is providing enterprises with a trusted and capable foundation to adapt to changing market needs. As Tonny Tugee the MD at SEACOMEast Africa notes, today, businesses around the world are relying increasingly on connectivity for conducting business transactions and payments, running apps and services in cloud environments, marketing, or simply sharing information with each other.

This also explains why companies like Google are going big on cloud in Africa with Google cloud. With 24 regions and 73 zones in 17 countries, Google Cloud delivers high-performance, low-latency cloud services to customers with partners like Incentro Africa. A couple of weeks ago, Google announced it will be offering Android and cloud development scholarships to developers across  Africa. Last week, it also announced a new partnership with Shopify, a global commerce company to enable Shopify’s more than 1.7 million merchants to have access to Google Cloud’s technology across a broader set of regions.

With increasing connectivity and availability of reliable and cheap internet across Africa, it has changed the way people work. Cloud is a leapfrog technology, comparable to the introduction of the mobile phone and we are just at the beginning of it.

Simon Ngunjiri Muraya is Google Cloud Architect at Incentro Africa.

[Column] Marilyn Moodley: A digitised supply chain has become a necessity for building business efficiency

Cloud technology is driving change and accelerating digital transformation across multiple industries simultaneously. Not only is cloud technology itself evolving at pace, but the way organisations buy and manage software is having to adapt as well.

Marilyn Moodley, Country Leader for South Africa and WECA (West, East, Central Africa) at SoftwareONE, says navigating multiple systems, processes, and software licence agreements presents a significant challenge. “Software is one of the largest expenses for many organisations. But the buying, optimising and management of that software requires the right balance between tools and digitisation, processes and expertise that work together to reduce costs and the administrative burden on IT and procurement teams.”

She says the bourgeoning number of enterprise applications means IT procurement and asset managers are under increasing pressure to deliver efficiencies and cost savings while improving user experience through faster response times and automation strategies. “Taking into account the resources required to manage licenses and user requests, ensure compliance, and manage spend, organisations are constantly looking for ways to eliminate unnecessary IT costs and optimise contracts across their software and cloud portfolios.”

Moodley explains that IT Procurement functions need to evolve into connected, efficient and digitised operations to address business demands more rapidly and effectively. A software Digital Supply Chain (DSC) is created through a seamless, integrated set of systems and activities across the software lifecycle to support these goals through automating and expediting the purchase of approved products in a portfolio while streamlining the process of requesting and acquiring new software products and services, via the right channels.

“Ineffective software procurement processes pose compliance challenges as businesses don’t have on-demand access to the right information regarding their license entitlements and contract use rights, such as any applicable geographic restrictions or their renewal options that would let them make the right buying decisions,” says Moodley.

“Establishing a system of records, that holds trustworthy software entitlements and contracts data, combined with insights & analytics is one of the largest challenges facing organisations today, and a lack of an effective digital supply chain makes that even harder to accomplish. Missing renewal deadlines due to lack of visibility and monitoring is not only detrimental to productivity, it leaves little time to prepare for contract negotiations,” says Moodley.

She adds that because cloud and software are often some of the largest investments a company makes, it makes sense to take digital supply chain management seriously as a means of improving an organisation’s bottom line. 

In addition to improved efficiencies, cost savings, and overall end-user experience, an effective digital supply chain embeds automation by eliminating time-consuming manual tasks and ensuring the right software is in the hands of the right user at the right time.

“Despite this, very few businesses have the tools to ensure that this spend is continuously cost-optimised and aligned with business objectives,” says Moodley.

SoftwareONE’s Digital Supply Chain (DSC) service, powered by the PyraCloud platform, solves a multitude of challenges by providing organisations with the right mix of tools, automated workflows and experts to more closely align software purchases to business requirements. The service allows customers to easily and effectively transact software licenses and cloud subscriptions; view the entire on-premises and cloud software estate; manage contracts; track, control and predict cloud spend across multiple providers; and identify cost saving opportunities across the entire software estate.

Moodley says there is a growing interest in this area. “As South African organisations mature their cloud strategies, business leaders are seeing the inherent value and importance of streamlining their supply chains. International examples are very instructive, as Omnico, a leading global guest engagement technology company headquartered in the UK, halved its cloud spend costs using SoftwareONE’s PyraCloud and managed cloud services. South African organisations who want to remain competitive should be putting a digital supply chain in place if they haven’t already.”

Marilyn Moodley is the South African Country Leader for SoftwareONE.

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.”

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